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Infant Behav Dev. 2019 Feb;54:37-47. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2018.11.003. Epub 2018 Dec 14.

Infant motor skill predicts later expressive language and autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.

Author information

1
Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Kennedy Krieger Institute, 3901 Greenspring Ave, Baltimore, MD 21211, United States.
2
Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Kennedy Krieger Institute, 3901 Greenspring Ave, Baltimore, MD 21211, United States; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, United States. Electronic address: landa@kennedykrieger.org.

Abstract

Motor difficulties may be an early Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) risk indicator and may predict subsequent expressive language skills. Further understanding of motor functioning in the first year of life in children with ASD is needed. We examined motor skills in 6-month-olds (n = 140) at high and low familial risk for ASD using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (Grasping, Visual-Motor Integration, and Stationary subscales). In Study 1, motor skill at 6 months predicted ASD status at 24-36 months; ASD was associated with poorer infant motor skills. In Study 2, motor skill at 6 months predicted expressive language at 30 and 36 months. Findings provide evidence that vulnerability in motor function early in development is present in ASD. Findings highlight the importance of developmental monitoring in high-risk infants and possible cascading effects of early disruption in motor development.

KEYWORDS:

ASD siblings; Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); Expressive language; Grasping; Infancy; Motor skill; Predictors; Visual-Motor

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