Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Writing Study Ties Autism To Motor-Skill Problems

NPR Morning Edition aired this story by Jon Hamilton this morning, observing that severe problems with handwriting is "indicative of a much larger problem with motor skills." Amy Bastian, a neuroscientist who directs the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, found that many children with some degree of autism "have trouble holding a fork, buttoning a shirt, or tying their shoelaces."

"And these problems with motor skills may carry over into social interactions," Bastian says. "These are the kids that are going to get picked last for kickball... who are clumsy, who already have difficulty relating to other kids. And the motor component probably makes things worse."

From Jon Hamilton's story: Bastian says a lack of motor skills can also make it harder to communicate through subtle gestures and facial expressions. And people who can't make these gestures and expressions themselves often have trouble understanding what they mean when other people use them. The inability to read faces and gestures is a hallmark of autism.

The research findings were published in yesterday's edition of Neurology. Read the authors' abstract at the publisher's web site:
Christina T. Fuentes, Stewart H. Mostofsky, and Amy J. Bastian
Children with autism show specific handwriting impairments.
Neurology 2009 73: 1532-1537.

The full-text of this article will be available for open access in one year, archived at PubMedCentral. For quicker access, request it on interlibrary loan.

Access a recent review of autism research at the OhioLINK Electronic Book Center:
Title Autism : current theories and evidence / Andrew W. Zimmerman, editor
Publish Info Totowa, NJ : Humana Press, c2008

1 comment:

xyz said...

“Since the implementation of the "Back to Sleep" campaign, therapists are seeing increasing numbers of kindergarten-aged children who are unable to hold a pencil.”
Susan Syron, Pediatric Physical Therapist

“There are indications of a rapidly growing population of infants who show developmental abnormalities as a result of prolonged exposure to the supine position.”
Dr. Ralph Pelligra regarding the impact of the Back to Sleep Campaign

As it turns out, when the primarily back and side sleeping ALSPAC babies were compared to the primarily stomach sleeping Colorado babies used to develop the DDST the researchers obtained these results: 68% of the ALSPAC infants had abnormal scores at 6 months of age compared to the stomach sleeping DDST Colorado infants and 57% of the ALSPAC infants had abnormal scores at 18 months compared to the original stomach sleeping DDST Colorado infants.
Summary of Alan Emond letter to BMJ in 2005 regarding ALSPAC data and a research project unrelated to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.