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Motor deficits in children with autism spectrum disorder: a cross-syndrome study

McPhillips, M.; Finlay, J.; Bejerot, S.; Hanley, M.

Motor deficits in children with autism spectrum disorder: a cross-syndrome study Thumbnail


M. McPhillips

J. Finlay

S. Bejerot


Recent research suggests that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience some level of motor difficulty, and that this may be associated with social communication skills. However, other studies show that children with language impairments, but without the social communication problems, are at risk of motor difficulties as well. The aim of the present study was to determine if children with ASD have syndrome-specific motor deficits in comparison to children with specific language impairment (SLI). We used an independent groups design with three groups of children (8–10 years old) matched on age and nonverbal IQ: an ASD group, an SLI group, and a typically developing (TD) group. All of the children completed an individually administered, standardized motor assessment battery. We found that the TD group demonstrated significantly better motor skills than either the ASD or SLI groups. Detailed analyses of the motor subtests revealed that the ASD and SLI groups had very similar motor profiles across a range of fine and gross motor skills, with one exception. We conclude that children with ASD, and SLI, are at risk of clinically significant motor deficits. However, future behavioral and neurological studies of motor skills in children with ASD should include an SLI comparison group in order to identify possible autism-specific deficits.


McPhillips, M., Finlay, J., Bejerot, S., & Hanley, M. (2014). Motor deficits in children with autism spectrum disorder: a cross-syndrome study. Autism Research, 7(6), 664-676.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 2, 2014
Online Publication Date Sep 24, 2014
Publication Date Dec 16, 2014
Deposit Date May 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date Sep 8, 2015
Journal Autism Research
Print ISSN 1939-3792
Electronic ISSN 1939-3806
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 6
Pages 664-676
Keywords Autism spectrum disorder, Specific language impairment, Motor deficit, Cross-syndrome.


Accepted Journal Article (170 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is the accepted version of the following article: McPhillips, M., Finlay, J., Bejerot, S. and Hanley, M. (2014), Motor Deficits in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Cross-Syndrome Study. Autism Research, 7(6): 664-676, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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