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In practice this means suspending judgments based on appearance and the initial responses of an individual and continuous long-term assessment through intervention.
This starts from observations of a person's motor skills, both when they are engaged and not engaged in activities, interacting with others or alone.
Motor impairments in a baby will influence their development: “when motor development is delayed, opportunities to engage with and learn about the environment and social partners in new and different ways may be limited or hampered” (Iverson and Wozniak, 2007, p. Early vocalizations and accompanying movements are entwined in terms of development (Iverson and Wozniak, 2007).
Sensory-motor difficulties are likely to inhibit or prevent the development of speech communication, but due to difficulties in performing basic motor skills (Mari et al., 2003) are also likely to impact on non-verbal and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) approaches (Mirenda, 2003a). doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.20 Pubmed Abstract | Pubmed Full Text | Cross Ref Full Text Mirenda, P. Toward functional Augmentative and Alternative Communication for students with autism: manual signs, graphic symbols and voice output communication aids.
Abilities in hand use or coordination may be demonstrated in one task, but not in another, for example when given an instruction. Variation in vocal-motor development in infant siblings of children with autism.
The ensuing investigation considers what is needed for the task to be accomplished successfully (Wood et al., 1976; Vygotsky, 1978).
This paper is particularly concerned with people with severe communication impairments suggesting that recognition of the impact of motor impairments on their lives could lead to more effective interventions being developed.
The direction of causation is not yet clear, i.e., whether motor difficulties are an aspect of cognitive impairments, or conversely whether being born with a motor impairment, particularly when it is not recognized as such, inhibits the development of cognitive and communication skills.
Awareness of difficulties in motor planning and execution in children and adults with autism and the potential benefits of teaching pointing were highlighted through the Facilitated Communication (FC) controversy (Biklen and Cardinal, 1997; Mostert, 2001).
Motor impairments have so far mostly been considered in terms of their recognition and diagnosis but are also of considerable relevance to intervention, at all stages of development. “He's not really a reader (horizontal ellipsis)”: perspectives on supporting literacy development in individuals with autism.
This paper suggests a model to aid understanding of people with autism and severe communication impairments, in the light of possible motor difficulties, and offers suggestions for interventions.