Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Do motor skills impact social success in children with autism?

From an AAHPERD conference preamble:
Autism spectrum disorder is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by deficits in social skills, communication and repetitive or restricted interests (American Psychological Association, 1994). In addition to these disability-specific behaviors, symptoms of movement disturbance are present (Green et el., 2009; Leery & Hill, 1996). Unmistakably, the emphases of intervention programs for these children are focused on improving social skills. But, it is possible that motor skill deficits are affecting success in social skills programs. The purpose of this study is to understand the role of motor skills in the success of a social skills intervention program for school-aged children with autism. Thirty children with a clinical diagnosis of autism or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified were recruited for this study. All participants took part in a school-based social skills intervention. Social skill and motor skill measures were taken at multiple time points. It was hypothesized that children with better motor skills would have more success in a school-based social skills intervention. At baseline motor skills were highly correlated with higher standardized social skills measures ([r.sup.2] = .67). A linear regression analysis revealed a trend that higher motor skills positively affected success in a schoolbased social skills intervention, based on standardized social skills measures. Motor skills affect the social success of children with autism. Teaching age-appropriate motor skills could add to a practitioners 'toolbox' of strategies. Opportunities to increase motor skills could positively impact other domains. Implications for educators will be discussed.
Megan I. MacDonald and Dale A. Ulrich (F), University of Michigan

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