Fundamental Motor Skills Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A 10-Year Narrative Review

Children (Basel). 2020 Nov 23;7(11):250. doi: 10.3390/children7110250.


In the past decade, converging evidence has suggested that motor impairment is one of the most consistent markers, alongside sociocommunicative difficulties, for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Indeed, widespread anomalies of movement have been described in the ASD context. These motor abnormalities could have critical implications for subsequent cognitive and social development. Nevertheless, this area of development is particularly underexamined in the autism-related context, and early intervention programs commonly focus on the core symptoms of the condition. In the present work, we review and discuss the findings from recent studies that investigated the effect of interventions regarding fundamental motor skills in autistic children. Although the limited nature of the literature prevents researchers from drawing definitive conclusions, the results from the studies discussed here demonstrated potentially significant improvements in the motor abilities of autistic children after the interventions. Only a subset of the reviewed studies explored possible changes in the sociocommunicative domain after the motor skills improvements, and they had not concordant, although promising, conclusions. Overall, in consideration of the well-documented motor impairment people with the condition, the present findings highlight the importance of including motor skills training within the rehabilitation programs designed for autistic children. Furthermore, this narrative review encourages future interventional trials to consider motor skills as a possible target for reducing activity limitations and participation restrictions of autistic children.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; fundamental motor skills; intervention; rehabilitation; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review