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J Intellect Disabil Res. 1994 Oct;38 ( Pt 5):519-27.

Is clumsiness a marker for Asperger syndrome?

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  • 1University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Although Asperger syndrome (AS) has been included in the ICD-10 as a distinct category within the pervasive developmental disorders, it is still unclear to what extent it differs from normal-intelligence autism (high-functioning autism; HFA). Persons with AS are said to be particularly clumsy. To test the hypothesis that clumsiness can reliably distinguish AS from autism, the present authors compared 11 patients with AS (ICD-10; 10 males; mean age, 13.6 years; mean IQ, 98) with nine patients with HFA (ICD-10/DSM-III-R; eight males; mean age, 12.9 years; mean IQ, 84). Clumsiness was assessed by the Bruininks-Oseretsky test. Both groups showed problems with coordination and the distribution of standard scores was virtually identical. This suggests that motor clumsiness, as measured by tests of coordination, may not reliably distinguish AS from HFA. However, qualitative differences may occur between the two groups in the manner in which movements are performed. Further research with larger samples may elicit differences into the pattern of motor deficits that occur in autism and AS.

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