The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published research to examine the evidence regarding motor impairment specificity in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is difficult to determine if there is evidence for specificity of motor impairment within different clinical groups. For example, are certain motor impairments associated with specific diagnoses? Previous research indicates the following:
Seventy nine percent of children with ASD demonstrated movement impairments in comparison to only 36 % of children with ADHD.
Children with Asperger’s syndrome have been shown to demonstrate greater impairments in throwing and catching.
Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) demonstrate greater impairments in balance and dexterity.
Children with ASD showed deficits in: catching a ball, balance, manual dexterity and visual motor feedback.
Children with ADHD have a more general impairment in basic motor abilities.
Children with ASD exhibit great motor impairment than children with ADHD.
This recent study compared motor impairments in 200 children, ages 8-13 years old (56 with ASD, 63 with ADHD and 61 typical developing-TD). Each child was evaluated with the Movement Assessment Battery for Children: Second Edition (MABC-2). The following results were recorded:
all three MABC subscale scores (Manual Dexterity, Aiming and Catching, and Balance) were significantly negatively associated with having a developmental disability.
when comparing children with ADHD and children with ASD, the Aiming and Catching and Balance subscale scores were significantly associated with having ASD as the primary diagnosis.
children in the ASD group demonstrated greater overall motor impairment compared to children with ADHD.
deficits in tasks involving visual feedback and static balance are most aligned with having an ASD.
performance on manual dexterity tasks appeared more strongly related to ADHD.
The researchers concluded that “impairments in motor skills requiring the coupling of visual and temporal feedback to guide and adjust movement appear specifically deficient in ASD.”
Reference: Ament K, Mejia A, Buhlman R, Erklin S, Caffo B, Mostofsky S, Wodka E. Evidence for specificity of motor impairments in catching and balance in children with autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Mar;45(3):742-51. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2229-0.