Infant motor skill predicts later expressive language and autism spectrum disorder diagnosis

Eve Sauer LeBarton, Rebecca J. Landa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Motor difficulties may be an early Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) risk indicator and may predict subsequent expressive language skills. Further understanding of motor functioning in the first year of life in children with ASD is needed. We examined motor skills in 6-month-olds (n = 140) at high and low familial risk for ASD using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (Grasping, Visual-Motor Integration, and Stationary subscales). In Study 1, motor skill at 6 months predicted ASD status at 24–36 months; ASD was associated with poorer infant motor skills. In Study 2, motor skill at 6 months predicted expressive language at 30 and 36 months. Findings provide evidence that vulnerability in motor function early in development is present in ASD. Findings highlight the importance of developmental monitoring in high-risk infants and possible cascading effects of early disruption in motor development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • ASD siblings
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Expressive language
  • Grasping
  • Infancy
  • Motor skill
  • Predictors
  • Visual-Motor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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