Although deficits in motor skills are not a core feature of autism, many autistic children and young people experience difficulties in gross and fine motor skills. This may be due to a number of factors, including atypical play skills, limited shared attention and imitation, restricted interests and sensory processing differences. All these factors will have an impact on motor skill development. In addition, some individuals also present with dyspraxia which affects the ability to conceptualise, plan and carry out a task.
The impact of motor skill difficulties on the development of life skills includes:
|Motor skill difficulty
|Impact on life skill development
|Fine motor difficulties
|Difficulty in any task requiring eye-hand coordination and fine manipulative skills e.g. fastening buttons, tying laces, using kitchen utensils, handwriting, handling coins.
|Gross motor difficulties
|Affects participation in sports and many leisure activities.
Affects sitting posture, which in turn has an impact on fine motor skills and energy/attention levels.
Can affect confidence and self-esteem.
|Motor planning difficulties
|Difficulty in carrying out multi-step tasks e.g. dressing, meal preparation.
Reluctance to learn new tasks.
Difficulty in learning new skills.
Poor organisational and planning skills.
Difficulty in activities which require complex integration of motor skills e.g. riding a bicycle, driving, tying a tie.