Early motor abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders: evidence from preclinical and clinical research

Francesca Fulceri *, Maria Luisa Scattoni ** and Laura Ricceri ***

(*) Stella Maris Foundation, Pisa, Ital
(**) Research Coordination and Support Service, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy
(***) Centre for Behavioural Sciences and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

Early motor abnormalities have been reported in infants and in young children later diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as well as in infants at high risk to develop ASD (i.e. siblings of children diagnosed with ASD). Specific motor symptoms as universal signs or prodromes for ASD have not been yet identified. The following review will go through literature findings on early motor functioning in ASD mouse models, in children with ASD and in high risk population, describing the range of motor disorders observed from preclinical and clinical perspectives. Prospective longitudinal approach highlight the power of early motor impairments to predict ASD-related symptoms but studies have not been able yet to confirm specificity of findings. Preclinical studies could provide some additional suggestions analyzing the effect of motor development alterations on the acquisition of social interaction and communication skills throughout the entire life span.

Keywords: Animal models, Autism, Motor development, Neonatal and infant behaviour