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

Claudia List Hilton, Yi Zhang, Megan R. Whilte, Cheryl L. Klohr, John Constantino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-441
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • agility
  • body coordination
  • endophenotype
  • fine manual control
  • manual dexterity
  • motor coordination
  • pervasive developmental disorder
  • sibling studies
  • strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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