Understanding the Link Between Socialization and Motor Skills in Children with Autism

Autism is often thought of as a developmental disorder that primarily affects children’s communication skills and social interactions. However, autism can also have an adverse effect on motor skills. Although these areas are typically considered separate from each other, new research indicates that a child’s motor skills can actually directly affect his or her social skills. This new research implies that for the best results, parents should look for an autism therapy program that offers a customized one-on-one therapy plan.

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Importance of Motor Skills
The study on the link between socialization and motor skills was conducted by Megan McDonald, an assistant professor at Oregon State University. McDonald and her team  evaluated 233 children with autism  who were between 14 to 49 months old. The study found that children with autism who have motor skills that are relatively on target for their age level also had higher functioning communication skills and social skills. The study author, who published her research in the journal  Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders , didn’t speculate as to the nature of the link. However, other researchers have pointed out that children who cannot physically interact with their peers (such as through sports) may be lacking in critical communication and social interaction opportunities.

Development of Motor Skills
Not every child with autism has motor skill delays. However, some youngsters with autism have trouble with gross motor skills in particular, which are needed for the control of large muscles. This means that a child with a delay in gross motor skills may exhibit clumsy movements and have poor coordination.

At  The Behavior Exchange , your child can receive intensive group and one-on-one therapy sessions that are customized for his or her unique needs. Our autism therapists can help children improve their motor skills, communication, social skills, and more. Parents in the Dallas area are welcome to learn more about our services, which are based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), by calling (972) 312-8733.

Written By Tammy Cline-Soza, MS, BCBA

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