Receptive language is associated with visual perception in typically developing children and sensorimotor skills in autism spectrum conditions

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Colleges, School and Institutes


A number of studies have evidenced marked difficulties in language in autism spectrum conditions (ASC). Studies have also shown that language and word knowledge are associated with the same area of brain that is also responsible for visual perception in typically developing (TD) individuals. However, in ASC, research suggests word meaning is mapped differently, on to situational sensorimotor components within the brain. Furthermore, motor coordination is associated with communication skills. The current study explores whether motor coordination and visual perception are impaired in children with ASC, and whether difficulties in coordination and visual perception correlate with receptive language levels. 36 children took part: 18 with ASC and 18 TD children, matched on age and non-verbal reasoning. Both groups completed the Movement ABC, Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration, British Picture Vocabulary Scale and Matrices (WASI). Results showed that ASC children scored significantly lower on receptive language, coordination and visual motor integration than the TD group. In the TD group receptive language significantly correlated with visual perception; in the ASC group receptive language significantly correlated with balance. These results imply that sensorimotor skills are associated with the understanding of language in ASC and thus the relationship between sensorimotor experiences and language warrants further investigation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-306
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Movement Science
Early online date15 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2018


  • Autism, Sensorimotor, Receptive language, Visual perception, Balance, Embodied cognition, BA 37