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Poor Handwriting Prevalent in Children With Autism

Study finds ASD children have poor letter formation and may need handwriting instruction

TUESDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have worse handwriting than children without the condition, and can benefit from special handwriting instruction and fine motor control training, according to a study in the Nov. 10 issue of Neurology.

Christina T. Fuentes, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues used the Minnesota Handwriting Assessment tool to assess the handwriting of 14 children with ASD and 14 children without the condition. Handwriting was assessed in five categories: legibility, form, size, spacing and alignment.

The researchers found that the children with ASD exhibited worse handwriting overall than the age- and intelligence-matched control group. In particular, the ASD children showed a poorer quality of letter formation, but there were no significant differences in letter size, alignment and spacing. Among members of the ASD group, motor skills predicted handwriting performance, while age, gender, IQ and visuospatial abilities did not.

"We addressed how different elements of handwriting contribute to impairments observed in children with autism. Our results suggest that training targeting letter formation, in combination with general training of fine motor control, may be the best direction for improving handwriting performance in children with autism," the authors write.

One study author reported serving on a scientific advisory for Bristol-Myers Squibb, serving on the editorial board of a medical journal, and receiving speaker honorarium from The National Academy of Neuropsychology.

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