Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders published research on the influence of time pressure on the handwriting of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The purpose of the current study was to determine the handwriting profile of children with ASD across both non-speeded and speeded conditions, with particular focus on spacing difficulties and handwriting errors. In addition, the researchers examined the relationships between handwriting and both intellectual and motor skills under different task conditions.
The subjects included 23 boys with ASD, matched with 20 controls, aged 8–12 years old. Each participant completed a modified version of the speed subtest of the Handwriting Performance Test and each wrote a simple phrase (cat and dog) five times in each condition.
The results indicated the following:
- no significant group differences were identified for handwriting errors or spacing between words in either condition.
- the ASD group demonstrated greater variability relative to controls, particularly in the speeded condition.
- significant negative associations were identified between motor proficiency and handwriting errors in the non-speeded condition.
The researchers concluded that motor processes have a significant role in overall handwriting proficiency, but motor ability may influence the handwriting process to different degrees, depending on the nature of the task. The lack of group differences with respect to handwriting errors and spacing between words may suggest that children with ASD have the ability to compensate for underlying motor impairment when completing a well-practiced writing task.
Reference: Grace, N., Rinehart, N. J., Enticott, P. G., & Johnson, B. P. (2017). Do children with ASD have difficulty handwriting under time pressure?. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 37, 21-30.
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