I recently read this story on NPR about a study in Neurology on handwriting skills that links autism to difficulties with motor skill acquisition. The NPR article mentions that the delayed motor skills, a result of poor motor planning (or the ability for the brain to talk to the muscles so that they can all work together to do the desired movement) may have a significant impact on social skills and communication. In my experience I have found that children who are diagnosed with autism, autism spectrum disorder, or PDD have poor motor planning and require increased amounts of repetition and practice to learn a new skill, and then even more practice and repetition to master it so that they can generalize it to everyday life. In fact I also found an article that looks at brain imaging and discovered that children with autism used a part of the brain that required more conscious thought to perform an activity while children without autism used an area of the brain that was for automatic movements.
I have found these articles to be enlightening with regards to what I have seen with the various children I treat. In addition, it opened up a slew of questions for me, the biggest one being ‘What exactly are the effects of delayed motor skills and poor motor planning on social interactions and social skill development in all kids, and does this affect them in the school setting (i.e. their educational experience)?’ Basically what are the long term effects on social development of delayed gross motor skill acquisition?