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J Neurodev Disord. 2014;6(1):11. doi: 10.1186/1866-1955-6-11. Epub 2014 May 20.

Motor function and perception in children with neuropsychiatric and conduct problems: results from a population based twin study.

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Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Baravägen 1C, SE-222 40 Lund, Sweden.
CELAM (Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health), University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden ; Swedish Prison and Probation Services, R & D Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
CELAM (Centre for Ethics, Law and Mental Health), University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.



Children with early symptomatic psychiatric disorders such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have been found to have high rates of motor and/or perception difficulties. However, there have been few large-scale studies reporting on the association between Conduct Disorder (CD) and motor/perception functions. The aim of the present study was to investigate how motor function and perception relate to measures of ADHD, ASD, and CD.


Parents of 16,994 Swedish twins (ages nine and twelve years) were interviewed using the Autism-Tics, ADHD and other Comorbidities inventory (A-TAC), which has been validated as a screening instrument for early onset child psychiatric disorders and symptoms. Associations between categorical variables of scoring above previously validated cut-off values for diagnosing ADHD, ASD, and CD on the one hand and motor and/or perception problems on the other hand were analysed using cross-tabulations, and the Fisher exact test. Associations between the continuous scores for ADHD, ASD, CD, and the subdomains Concentration/Attention, Impulsiveness/Activity, Flexibility, Social Interaction and Language, and the categorical factors age and gender, on the one hand, and the dependent dichotomic variables Motor control and Perception problems, on the other hand, were analysed using binary logistic regression in general estimated equation models.


Male gender was associated with increased risk of Motor control and/or Perception problems. Children scoring above the cut-off for ADHD, ASD, and/or CD, but not those who were 'CD positive' but 'ADHD/ASD negative', had more Motor control and/or Perception problems, compared with children who were screen-negative for all three diagnoses. In the multivariable model, CD and Impulsiveness/Activity had no positive associations with Motor control and/or Perception problems.


CD symptoms or problems with Impulsiveness/Activity were associated with Motor control or Perception problems only in the presence of ASD symptoms and/or symptoms of inattention. Our results indicate that children with CD but without ASD or inattention do not show a deviant development of motor and perceptual functions. Therefore, all children with CD should be examined concerning motor control and perception. If problems are present, a suspicion of ADHD and/or ASD should be raised.


A-TAC; Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Conduct Disorder; Motor control; Perception

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