Brittany G. Travers, PhD – Slide of the Week

Brittany G. Travers, PhD - Slide of the Week

Title: Sensorimotor differences within autism vary according to co-occurring ADHD

Legend: We want to better understand how autistic children with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) differed in their motor skills, sensory features, and daily living skills. On average, autistic children with ADHD had more pronounced sensory features and lower motor scores than those without ADHD. Motor skills were driven by autism features, but sensory features were driven by both autism and ADHD features. We also found that knowing the prominence of each child’s autism and ADHD features was a better indicator of daily living skills compared to diagnostic group assignment (autism or autism + ADHD).

Citation: Skaletski, E. C., Barry, K., Dennis, E., Donnelly, R., Huerta, C., Jones, A., Schmidt, K., Kabakov, S., Ausderau, K. K., Li, J. J., & Travers, B. G. (2024). Sensorimotor Features and Daily Living Skills in Autistic Children With and Without ADHD. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 10.1007/s10803-024-06256-y. Advance online publication.

Abstract: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) commonly co-occurs in autistic children. However, additional research is needed to explore the differences in motor skills and sensory features in autistic children with and without ADHD, as well as the impacts of these factors on daily living skills (DLS). This observational study sought to fill this gap with 67 autistic children (6.14-10.84 years-old), 43 of whom had ADHD. Autistic children with ADHD demonstrated higher sensory features and lower motor skills than autistic children without ADHD. In examining autism and ADHD features dimensionally, we found that overall sensory features, seeking, and hyporesponsiveness were driven by both autism and ADHD features, whereas motor skills, enhanced perception, and hyperresponsiveness were driven by only autism features. Additionally, in using these dimensional variables of autism and ADHD features, we found that differences in motor skills, sensory and autism features, but not ADHD features, impact DLS of autistic children, with autism features and motor skills being the strongest individual predictors of DLS. Together, these results demonstrate the uniqueness of motor skills and sensory features in autistic children with and without ADHD, as well as how autism features, sensory features, and motor skills contribute to DLS, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive understanding of each individual and complexities of human development when supporting autistic children.

Brittany G. Travers, PhD
Brittany G. Travers, PhD

Investigator: Brittany G. Travers, PhD

About the Lab: The Motor Brain and Development Lab is dedicated to advancing knowledge about motor development, brain development, and independent living skills to promote and enhance quality of life for individuals with and without developmental disorders. Our current projects specialize in examining motor and brain development in individuals on the autism spectrum.

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