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Monday, March 11, 2019

Motor Symptoms in Autism

In The Politics of Autism, I write:
Autism often involves a range of other co-occurring conditions: intellectual disabilities (e.g., low IQ); delays in gross motor skills (e.g., walking, throwing) and fine motor skills (e.g., writing); attention problems and hyperactivity; anxiety; self-injurious behavior; unusual sensitivity to certain sounds, smells, or feelings;extreme food selectivity; and sleep disorders. For autistic people and their families, the co-occurring conditions may cause as much anguish as the autism itself.
What causes there to be a physical disability component to autism? To learn more, I spoke with Dr. Stéphane Baudouin of Cardiff University's School of Biosciences. Baudouin has been involved in scientific research that has established a link between a genetic mutation and developmental movement impairments in autism, in the hope that unlocking the genetic mechanisms that cause motor issues in autism can eventually help provide treatment.
"People are very surprised by the fact that autism is associated with motor symptoms," Baudouin told Salon. "It's largely known in the literature ... in our papers, I think it's 70% of people with autism have motor symptoms. And so the thing that I've learned by doing it is, or the thing we decided to do, is to focus on those symptoms that are equally important for people with autism. To try to provide some biological rationale for them, and also possibilities for treatment. So that's pretty much the idea."