Poor Handwriting in Autism Persists Into Adolescence

Reasoning ability is better predictor of handwriting than motor skills in adolescents

TUESDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Poor handwriting with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) persists from childhood into adolescence, but the main predictor for poor handwriting shifts from motor skills to perceptual reasoning ability in the older group, according to a study published the Nov. 16 issue of Neurology.

Christina T. Fuentes, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues examined and compared handwriting samples from adolescents with ASD (mean age, 14.4 years) and a matched control group without ASD (mean age, 13.8 years) using the Minnesota Handwriting Assessment.

The researchers found that -- like children with ASD -- adolescents with ASD had worse performance overall on a handwriting task than the ASD-free control group, and had more motor impairments than the controls. However, the researchers found that the Perceptual Reasoning Indices were significantly predictive of handwriting performance and that motor skills were not predictive, which differed from handwriting assessments in children with ASD.

"Like children with ASD, adolescents with ASD have poor handwriting quality relative to controls. Despite still demonstrating motor impairments, in adolescents perceptual reasoning is the main predictor of handwriting performance, perhaps reflecting subjects' varied abilities to learn strategies to compensate for their motor impairments," the authors write.

Fuentes disclosed serving as an adviser for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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