Motor disturbances in autistic children: cross-sectional, controlled study

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Abstract

Background

Children with autism have developmental motor profile that differ from other healthy children. This is evident since early childhood, sometimes noted by parents and neglected by clinicians. These motor deficits are related to other domains of dysfunction in children with autism as social and language skills. Improving motor deficits can help better prognosis for these children.

Objective

To detect and describe motor deficits in a sample of autistic children and correlate them with the severity of autistic symptoms.

Methods

We recruited 20 autistic children ranging from 3 to 6 years from the Institute of psychiatry outpatient child psychiatry and rehabilitation clinics of Ain-Shams university hospital. Patients with total intelligence less than 75 or having other neurodevelopment disorders were excluded. We matched healthy controls for age and sex and compared both motor development and self-help skills using Brigance scale. The diagnosis of childhood autism in each patient was confirmed by applying International Classification of Diseases-10 criteria of autism by a senior psychiatrist and by having a Childhood Autism Rating Scale score above 30. Relationship between autism severity and motor deficits was assessed by correlation coefficient test.

Results

Compared with controls, children with childhood autism showed low statistically significant Brigance test scores on gross movement, fine movement, and self-help skills subdomains. Motor delay was significantly correlated with autism severity.

Conclusion

Motor deficits were evident in this sample of autistic patients and were correlated with case severity. This can shed light onto potential targets for intervention early, as these deficits are detected by aware clinicians, especially in prelingual children.

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