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Phys Ther. 2011 Jul;91(7):1116-29. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20100294. Epub 2011 May 5.

Current perspectives on motor functioning in infants, children, and adults with autism spectrum disorders.

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Physical Therapy Program, Department of Kinesiology, Neag School of Education and Center for Ecological Study of Perception and Action, University of Connecticut, 358 Mansfield Road, U2101, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are the most common pediatric diagnoses in the United States. In this perspective article, we propose that a diverse set of motor impairments are present in children and adults with ASDs. Specifically, we will discuss evidence related to gross motor, fine motor, postural control, and imitation/praxis impairments. Moreover, we propose that early motor delays within the first 2 years of life may contribute to the social impairments of children with ASDs; therefore, it is important to address motor impairments through timely assessments and effective interventions. Lastly, we acknowledge the limitations of the evidence currently available and suggest clinical implications for motor assessment and interventions in children with ASDs. In terms of assessment, we believe that comprehensive motor evaluations are warranted for children with ASDs and infants at risk for ASDs. In terms of interventions, there is an urgent need to develop novel embodied interventions grounded in movement and motor learning principles for children with autism.

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