We've known this for a long time: the vast majority of children with ASD have sensory and motor differences that are the cause of, or contribute to, their emotional or behavioural responses--up to nearly 90%, in fact.
We've heard lots about sensory processing differences since the changes in the DSM-V happened in 2013, but not nearly enough about the motor challenges that often impact many autistic individuals. Daniel struggles with this--he has dyspraxia, something he calls all-over clumsiness--and it makes him feel less than calm and often unsafe in many physical environments.
Enter a dynamic young doctor of kinesiology, Dr. Brianne Redquest, the first Wilfrid Laurier University student to earn a PhD in Kinesiology.
Dr. Redquest's PhD dissertation suggests that parents are very focused on social skills and commonly do not prioritize the often significant motor challenges their children on the autism spectrum experience. This reality may be hindering the development of social skills, because, well...here's the thing. Kids who don't feel capable of being successful with an activity because they lack physical ability will give a pass to social opportunities--or, often, are rejected by their peers because of their lack of skill and ability.
If your child struggles with fine or gross motor skills, we urge you to get an assessment from an Occupational Therapist with expertise in autism. Addressing movement issues can have big payoffs. This kind of therapy may help them move toward improved social competence and greater confidence in their physical environment.
Learn more about Dr. Redquest and her research here.