European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 178–186 | Cite as

Can autism, language and coordination disorders be differentiated based on ability profiles?

  • Sarah N. Wisdom
  • Murray J. Dyck
  • Jan P. Piek
  • David Hay
  • Joachim Hallmayer


Children with autistic disorder (AD), mixed receptive-expressive language disorder (RELD), or developmental coordination disorder (DCD) have impairments in common. We assess which abilities differentiate the disorders. Children aged 3–13 years diagnosed with AD (n = 30), RELD (n = 30), or DCD (n = 22) were tested on measures of language, intelligence, social cognition, motor coordination, and executive functioning. Results indicate that the AD and DCD groups have poorer fine and gross motor coordination and better response inhibition than the RELD group. The AD and DCD groups differ in fine and gross motor coordination, emotion understanding, and theory of mind scores (AD always lower), but discriminant function analysis yielded a non-significant function and more classification errors for these groups. In terms of ability scores, the AD and DCD groups appear to differ more in severity than in kind.


autism receptive-expressive language disorder coordination disorder 



This research was supported by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Research Centre for Applied Psychology, Curtin University of Technology. We wish to thank the principals and staff of participating schools and clinics for their cooperation, and especially to thank the participating children and parents who made this study possible.


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah N. Wisdom
    • 1
  • Murray J. Dyck
    • 2
  • Jan P. Piek
    • 1
  • David Hay
    • 1
  • Joachim Hallmayer
    • 3
  1. 1.School of PsychologyCurtin University of TechnologyBentleyAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychologyGriffith UniversitySouthportAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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