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Autism Res. 2016 Sep;9(9):993-1001. doi: 10.1002/aur.1587. Epub 2015 Dec 22.

Early gross motor skills predict the subsequent development of language in children with autism spectrum disorder.

Author information

1
Biostatistics Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London. rachael.bedford@kcl.ac.uk.
2
Biostatistics Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London.
3
Department of Psychiatry, Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Motor milestones such as the onset of walking are important developmental markers, not only for later motor skills but also for more widespread social-cognitive development. The aim of the current study was to test whether gross motor abilities, specifically the onset of walking, predicted the subsequent rate of language development in a large cohort of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

METHODS:

We ran growth curve models for expressive and receptive language measured at 2, 3, 5 and 9 years in 209 autistic children. Measures of gross motor, visual reception and autism symptoms were collected at the 2 year visit. In Model 1, walking onset was included as a predictor of the slope of language development. Model 2 included a measure of non-verbal IQ and autism symptom severity as covariates. The final model, Model 3, additionally covaried for gross motor ability.

RESULTS:

In the first model, parent-reported age of walking onset significantly predicted the subsequent rate of language development although the relationship became non-significant when gross motor skill, non-verbal ability and autism severity scores were included (Models 2 & 3). Gross motor score, however, did remain a significant predictor of both expressive and receptive language development.

CONCLUSIONS:

Taken together, the model results provide some evidence that early motor abilities in young children with ASD can have longitudinal cross-domain influences, potentially contributing, in part, to the linguistic difficulties that characterise ASD. Autism Res 2016, 9: 993-1001. © 2015 The Authors Autism Research published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Society for Autism Research.

KEYWORDS:

autism spectrum disorder; language development; walking

PMID:
26692550
PMCID:
PMC5031219
DOI:
10.1002/aur.1587
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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