Background: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) require neurological evaluation to detect sensory-motor impairment. This will improve understanding of brain function in children with ASD, in terms of minor neurological dysfunctions (MNDs). Methods: We compared 32 ASD children without intellectual disability (IQ ≥ 70) with 32 healthy controls. A standardized and age-specific neurological examination according to Touwen was used to detect the presence of MNDs. Particular attention was paid to severity and type of MNDs. Results: Children with ASD had significantly higher rates of MNDs compared to controls (96.9% versus 15.6%): 81.3% had simple MNDs (p
< 0.0001) and 15.6% had complex MNDs (p
= 0.053). The prevalence of MNDs in the ASD group was significantly higher (p
< 0.0001) than controls. With respect to specific types of MNDs, children with ASD showed a wide range of fine manipulative disability, sensory deficits and choreiform dyskinesia. We also found an excess of associated movements and anomalies in coordination and balance. Conclusions: Results replicate previous findings which found delays in sensory-motor behavior in ASD pointing towards a role for prenatal, natal and neonatal risk factors in the neurodevelopmental theory of autism.
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