Retrospectively Assessed Early Motor and Current Pragmatic Language Skills in Autistic and Neurotypical Children

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Abstract

Autistic individuals often struggle developmentally, even in areas that are not explicit diagnostic criteria, such as motor skills. This study explored the relation between early motor skills, assessed retrospectively, and current pragmatic language skills. Caregivers of neurotypical and autistic children, matched on gender and age, completed assessments of their child’s early motor development and current language abilities. Early motor skills were correlated with later pragmatic language skills, and autistic children exhibited fewer motor skills than neurotypical children. In fact, motor skills were a better predictor of an autism spectrum diagnosis than were scores on a measure of current pragmatic language. These results highlight the important role of motor skills in autism spectrum disorders.

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