Motor Proficiency of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typically Developing Children in Portugal
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Children experiencing deficits in motor proficiency may have poor communication skills, low physical activity engagement, and difficulties on achieving academic success. Thus, the early assessment of deficits in motor proficiency allows planning an intervention that leads to the minimization of these deficits. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present several motor deficits, such as balance, coordination, or strength combined with developmental delays in fine and gross motor proficiency. However, there are limited research have been conducted to examine motor proficiency in Portuguese children with ASD. This study was aimed to evaluate the motor proficiency of Portuguese children with ASD and compare with motor proficiency of the typically developing children. The sample consisted of 10 children with ASD and 10 typical developing children with a mean age of 6.9 years. All children were assessed on their fine and gross motor proficiency using the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency-Second Edition (BOT-2). A significant difference was found between the groups (p = 0.02) on BOT-2 subtests. Children with ASD scored significantly lower (25.50 ± 14:34) than their typical developing peers (39.50 ± 11.26). Specifically, children with ASD scored poorly on fine motor precision (p=0:00), manual dexterity (p=0.02), balance (p=0.02), speed and agility (p=0.04), and strength (p=0.04) in comparison to the typically developing children. All typical developing children scored average in their motor proficiency performance whereas 80% children with ASD were categorized as below and very below average, with two children were within the average of motor proficiency. These findings suggest that more research is needed on investigation of motor delays in Portuguese children with ASD to develop interventions to improve motor proficiency in children with ASD.