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Published online: 2024-03-13

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Comprehensive assessment of motor skills in children with autism spectrum disorders

Kinga Litwin1, Piotr Poniewierski21, Katarzyna Poczta1, Karolina Biel1, Natalia Trzeszczyńska3, Ewa Mojs3, Włodzimierz Samborski3

Abstract

Background: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects many spheres of life. Apart from the psychological area of social contacts, it also has a negative effect on motor functions. People with the autism spectrum are characterized by lower motor skills compared to their neurotypical peers. Motor disorders often precede a later diagnosis of autism. The identified difficulties are visible and persistent in relation to everyday functioning. They also have a negative impact on the quality of life.

The aim of the study was to assess the motor skills of people with autism spectrum disorders, taking into account: the strength of the upper limbs, explosive strength of the lower limbs, gait, postural stability and gross motor skills. The specific aim was to compare the parameters of the above-mentioned areas with the results of neurotypical children.

Material and methods: The study was conducted on female and male children aged 6–11 years. The research group included 30 children with autism spectrum disorders, the control group consisted of 30 neurotypical children. Upper limb strength was assessed using a hand dynamometer, lower limb explosive strength was assessed using the Standing Long Jump Test, biomechanical assessment of postural stability parameters and child’s gait using a dynamographic platform and gross motor skills assessment using the Polish version of the TGMD-3 test.

Results: The results showed no significant differences in the strength of upper limbs measured with a dynamometer between children developing neurotypically and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Children with ASD had significantly lower results than those developing neurotypically, in terms of the maximum pressure of both lower limbs. People with spectrum disorder showed lower gross motor skills compared to the neurotypical population.

Conclusions: Gross motor skills and gait quality are lower in neuro-typical individuals. People on the autism spectrum should receive support focused on motor skills, especially on the gait pattern. Probably, the diagnosis of ASD does not affect the strength of the upper limbs.

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