Predicting the rate of language development from early motor skills in at-risk infants who develop autism spectrum disorder

Leonard, Hayley C.; Bedford, R.; Pickles, A.; Hill, Elisabeth L. and The BASIS, Team. 2015. Predicting the rate of language development from early motor skills in at-risk infants who develop autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 13-14, pp. 2015-24. ISSN 1750-9467 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The aim of the current paper was to use data from a prospective study to assess the impact of early motor skills on the rate of language development in infants with an older sibling with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), who are at increased risk of developing ASD themselves. Infants were tested prospectively at four points (7, 14, 24 and 36 months), and were assessed for ASD at the last visit. Latent growth curve analysis was used to model rate of language development using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales between 7-36 months in infants at high and low familial risk for ASD. Motor scores from the Mullen Scales of Early Learning at 7 months were used as predictors of language growth. Gross motor scores predicted the subsequent rate of expressive, but not receptive, language development in at-risk siblings who were later diagnosed with ASD. Although the pattern was similar for fine motor skills, the relationship did not reach significance. It seems that early motor delay impacts the rate of development of expressive language, and this may be of particular importance to infants at increased risk of developing ASD.

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We are grateful for the generous contributions BASIS families have made towards this study. The research is supported by a British Academy Small Grant (SG100507) to E.L. Hill, The UK Medical Research Council (G0701484) to M.H. Johnson, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to M. Elsabbagh, and the BASIS funding consortium led by Autistica ( This work was also supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. The BASIS team in alphabetical order: Simon Baron-Cohen, Patrick Bolton, Susie Chandler, Tony Charman, Mayada Elsabbagh, Holly Garwood, Teodora Gliga, Kristelle Hudry, Mark Johnson, Greg Pasco, Leslie Tucker, Agnes Volein. Professor Pickles receives royalties from the publication of the Social Communication Questionnaire.


motor development, autism spectrum disorder, infancy, language development, prospective

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1 May 2015Published
12 March 2015Published Online
19 December 2014Accepted

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Date Deposited:

06 Jan 2015 16:35

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:04

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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