Online first
Research paper
Published online: 2024-03-13

open access

Page views 96
Article views/downloads 71
Get Citation

Connect on Social Media

Connect on Social Media

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


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.

Article available in PDF format

View PDF Download PDF file


  1. Liu X, Lin J, Zhang H, et al. Biomarkers in autism spectrum disorders: Current progress. Clin Chim Acta. 2020; 502: 41–54.
  2. Bahmani M, Sarrafchi A, Shirzad H, et al. Autism: Pathophysiology and Promising Herbal Remedies. Curr Pharm Des. 2016; 22(3): 277–285.
  3. Winczura B. Wczesne rozpoznawanie autyzmu u małych dzieci – sygnały ostrzegawcze dla diagnozy zaburzeń ze spektrum autyzmu. Psychiatr Psychol Klin. 2019; 19: 216–225.
  4. Rynkiewicz A, Kulik M. Wystandaryzowane, interaktywne narzędzia do diagnozy zaburzeń ze spektrum autyzmu a nowe kryteria diagnostyczne DSM-5. Psychiatria. 2013; 10: 41–48.
  5. Staples KL, Reid G. Fundamental movement skills and autism spectrum disorders. J Autism Dev Disord. 2010; 40(2): 209–217.
  6. Leader G, Tuohy E, Chen JL, et al. Feeding Problems, Gastrointestinal Symptoms, Challenging Behavior and Sensory Issues in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord. 2020; 50(4): 1401–1410.
  7. Mohd Nordin A, Ismail J, Kamal Nor N. Motor Development in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Front Pediatr. 2021; 9: 598276.
  8. Lim YiH, Licari M, Spittle AJ, et al. Early Motor Function of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics. 2021; 147(2).
  9. Zampella CJ, Wang LAL, Haley M, et al. Motor Skill Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Clinically Focused Review. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2021; 23(10): 64.
  10. Thomas S, Barnett LM, Papadopoulos N, et al. How Do Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Affect Motor Competence in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Compared to Typically Developing Children: A Pilot Study. J Autism Dev Disord. 2022; 52(8): 3443–3455.
  11. Balasco L, Provenzano G, Bozzi Y. Sensory Abnormalities in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Focus on the Tactile Domain, From Genetic Mouse Models to the Clinic. Front Psychiatry. 2019; 10: 1016.
  12. Perin C, Valagussa G, Mazzucchelli M, et al. Physiological Profile Assessment of Posture in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typically Developing Peers. Brain Sci. 2020; 10(10).
  13. Dadgar H, Alaghband Rad J, Soleymani Z, et al. The Relationship between Motor, Imitation, and Early Social Communication Skills in Children with Autism. Iran J Psychiatry. 2017; 12(4): 236–240.
  14. Lourenço C, Esteves D, Nunes C, et al. Motor proficiency of children with autism spectrum disorder and typically developing children in Portuga. J Phys Educ Sport. 2020; 20(3): 1491–1496.
  15. Akdoğan AS, Uzun A. Determining the Physical Fitness of Individuals with Autism in Early and Middle Adolescence Period. Educ Q Rev. 2022; 5(2).
  16. Morrison S, Armitano CN, Raffaele CT, et al. Neuromotor and cognitive responses of adults with autism spectrum disorder compared to neurotypical adults. Exp Brain Res. 2018; 236(8): 2321–2332.
  17. Lim YiH, Lee HC, Falkmer T, et al. Postural control adaptation to optic flow in children and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Gait Posture. 2019; 72: 175–181.
  18. Biffi E, Costantini C, Ceccarelli SB, et al. Gait Pattern and Motor Performance During Discrete Gait Perturbation in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Front Psychol. 2018; 9: 2530.
  19. Hasan CZ, Jailani R, Md Tahir N, et al. The analysis of three-dimensional ground reaction forces during gait in children with autism spectrum disorders. Res Dev Disabil. 2017; 66: 55–63.
  20. Kindregan D, Gallagher L, Gormley J. Gait deviations in children with autism spectrum disorders: a review. Autism Res Treat. 2015; 2015: 741480.
  21. Armitano CN, Bennett HJ, Haegele JA, et al. Assessment of the gait-related acceleration patterns in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Gait Posture. 2020; 75: 155–162.
  22. Li Y, Koldenhoven RM, Liu T, et al. Age-related gait development in children with autism spectrum disorder. Gait Posture. 2021; 84: 260–266.
  23. Gong L, Liu Y, Yi Li, et al. Abnormal Gait Patterns in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Correlations with Social Impairments. Autism Res. 2020; 13(7): 1215–1226.
  24. Allen KA, Bredero B, Van Damme T, et al. Test of Gross Motor Development-3 (TGMD-3) with the Use of Visual Supports for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Validity and Reliability. J Autism Dev Disord. 2017; 47(3): 813–833.