, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 219-225

Evaluation of neuromotor deficits in children with autism and children with a specific speech and language disorder

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Several studies have described problems in motor functions in children with autism and children with a specific speech and language disorder. The purpose of this study was to identify neuromotor deficits in these neurodevelopmentally impaired children. A standardised neurological examination was performed in 11 children with childhood autism, 11 children with an expressive language disorder, 11 children with a receptive language disorder and 11 control children. The children were matched for age and non-verbal IQ, not for gender. All children had a non-verbal IQ above 85. The neurological examination procedure allowed for a qualitative and quantitative assessment of five specific neurological subsystems: fine and gross motor functions, balance, coordination and oral motor functions. The high-functioning children with autism and the children with a specific language disorder (expressive or receptive) had more motor problems than the control children on most neurological subsystems. There were few statistically significant differences between the three groups of developmentally impaired children. The frequent co-occurrence of verbal and non-verbal, in particular neuromotor, deficits in developmentally impaired children put an additional burden on the development of these children and should be diagnosed as early as possible.