Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are typically categorized as disorders which affect communication and social behaviors. However, Autism also affects important motor skills. The more severe the disorder, the slower the progress is for a child to develop essential skills, such as being able to hold and grasp objects, and move around efficiently.
According to a recent study that was published by the Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, children with Autism were nearly a year behind neurotypical children in motor skill development. The study focused on more than 150 young children between the ages of 12 and 33 months, with 110 of the children having Autism. It was discovered that the children with Autism additionally were six months behind in skills such as jumping and running. The deficit in motor skill development was not linked to any intellectual disabilities.
”For kids between the ages of 1 and 3, these are substantial deficits,” states Megan MacDonald, professor at the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University. She continues, “At that age, they’re like little sponges – we can teach them motor skills”. Early identification of motor skill deficits in Autistic children can give more time and attention to the issue to help the children catch up to their peers.
The findings of the research study show that more motor skill development should be incorporated into treatment programs. Currently, most programs typically focus on communication and social skills. Adaptive physical education programs, which are tailored to each child’s abilities and needs, are available for children with Autism, and should be taken advantage of.
According to Anat Baniel of The Anat Baniel Method, ASD starts as a movement disorder, which results from disruption of the underlying neurological process of differentiation in the brain. As a result, motor skills, among other skills, cannot develop properly. Anat Baniel states that “we need to somehow awaken and support the brain’s ability to differentiate and create new connections and effective patterns.” Movement provides rapid creation of new connections, allowing the brain to receive new information. As a result, improvements in important skills, such as cognitive and motor skills, spontaneously occur.
The ICare4Autism International Conference will be discussing more important Autism research and treatments on July 1st in NYC. Anat Baniel will be giving a presentation on neuromovement, which views ASD as a brain/movement disorder. To hear Ms. Baniel speak on this topic, please select tickets here.