Research Article  |   September 2015
Retrospective Analysis of Motor Development in Infants at High and Low Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Author Affiliations
  • Jill C. Heathcock, MPT, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Division of Physical Therapy, The Ohio State University, Columbus; jill.heathcock@osumc.edu
  • Kelly Tanner, OTR/L, PhD, is Assistant Clinical Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Science, The Ohio State University, Columbus
  • Danielle Robson, PhD, is Clinical Psychologist, School of Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  • Robyn Young, PhD, is Associate Professor, School of Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  • Alison E. Lane, PhD, OTR/L, is Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy, School of Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Callahan, New South Wales, Australia
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Special Issue on Autism: Research Articles
Research Article   |   September 2015
Retrospective Analysis of Motor Development in Infants at High and Low Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September 2015, Vol. 69, 6905185070p1-6905185070p9. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.017525
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September 2015, Vol. 69, 6905185070p1-6905185070p9. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.017525
Abstract

OBJECTIVE. To measure upper-extremity and gross motor skill development in infants with and without risk factors for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

METHOD. Data were coded retrospectively from 39 infants who participated in longitudinal structured early developmental assessments. Twenty-five infants were at high risk for ASD, and the remaining 14 infants were classified as low risk. Upper-extremity and motor skill development were coded at ages 2, 4, and 6 mo. Five infants went on to receive an ASD diagnosis at age 2–4 yr.

RESULTS. Infants at high risk for ASD demonstrated fewer midline behaviors with the upper extremities and delayed motor skill development than the low-risk group. Differences in motor skills were most apparent at age 4 mo.

CONCLUSION. Early monitoring for motor delay in infants at high risk for ASD is warranted. Midline control and play with the upper extremities and overall motor skill development are possible assessment and therapeutic targets.