Improved autonomy in autistic children



The short-term objective of this research was to study the link between sensorimotor skills and autonomy in activities of daily living (ADL) in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The short-term objective of this research was to study the link between sensorimotor skills and autonomy in activities of daily living (ADL) in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The longitudinal aspect of this research enabled us not only to examine these skills in preschool children, but to observe the evolution of these skills after entering school.

Autonomy in ADL is an important element in facilitating integration into day-care and school.

Our results show that most preschool and school-aged ASD children have difficulty processing sensory stimuli, poor fine and gross motor skills, and a low level of autonomy in ADL, in particular when it comes to personal care. They also demonstrate that the best predictors for autonomy in ADL in preschool children are fine motor skills and the ability to process sensory stimuli, while total motor skills are the best predictor in school-aged children. In addition, sensorimotor problems are not unique to ASD children, but should be observed in all children with this type of difficulty (intellectual disabilities and language problems).

Interventions specifically targeting the development of sensorimotor skills could potentially lead to greater autonomy and functional ADL independence in ASD children, as well as in other clinical populations with similar difficulties. Finally, sensorimotor problems do not appear to lessen with age, contrary to our initial expectations.

Autonomy in ADL is an important element in facilitating integration into day-care and school. Our long-term objective is to develop interventions for children with ASD that will increase autonomy in ADL through the development of sensorimotor skills. We want to improve the support offered to families, recognizing the burden that falls on them - in particular for personal care - as a result of their child's dependence. Thus, interventions that contribute to the development of autonomy should facilitate integration into day-care and school, and release parents from certain care tasks.

Main researcher

Éric Fombonne, McGill University

Summary

Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: December 2009