Motor impairment in sibling pairs concordant and discordant for autism spectrum disorders

Autism. 2012 Jul;16(4):430-41. doi: 10.1177/1362361311423018. Epub 2011 Oct 19.


Aim: Although motor impairment is frequently observed in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), the manner in which these impairments aggregate in families affected by autism is unknown. We used a standardized measure of motor proficiency to objectively examine quantitative variation in motor proficiency in sibling pairs concordant and discordant for ASD.

Methods: Motor impairment of sibling pairs from 67 ASD-affected families comprising 29 concordant pairings and 48 discordant pairings were assessed using the Bruininks Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, 2nd Edition, a standardized measure of motor proficiency.

Results: Motor skills were substantially impaired among ASD-affected children and highly correlated with autistic severity and IQ, whereas motor skills in unaffected siblings were essentially normal. Total motor composite scores of at least one standard deviation below the general population mean were seen in 83% of the affected group compared with 6% in the unaffected siblings.

Interpretation: Findings indicate that motor impairment constitutes a core characteristic of ASD (not necessarily an ASD endophenotype), which has distinct implications for taxonomy, diagnosis, and approaches to intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / complications
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / genetics
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / physiopathology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Endophenotypes
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Motor Skills Disorders / etiology
  • Motor Skills Disorders / genetics
  • Motor Skills Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Siblings*
  • Young Adult