Background Autism spectrum conditions (ASC) are frequently associated with motor coordination difficulties. However, no studies have explored the prevalence of dyspraxia in a large sample of individuals with and without ASC or associations between dyspraxia and autistic traits in these individuals. Methods Two thousand eight hundred seventy-one adults (with ASC) and 10,706 controls (without ASC) self-reported whether they have been diagnosed with dyspraxia. A subsample of participants then completed the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ; 1237 ASC and 6765 controls) and the Empathy Quotient (EQ; 1147 ASC and 6129 controls) online through the Autism Research Centre website. The prevalence of dyspraxia was compared between those with and without ASC. AQ and EQ scores were compared across the four groups: (1) adults with ASC with dyspraxia, (2) adults with ASC without dyspraxia, (3) controls with dyspraxia, and (4) controls without dyspraxia. Results Adults with ASC were significantly more likely to report a diagnosis of dyspraxia (6.9%) than those without ASC (0.8%). In the ASC group, those with co-morbid diagnosis of dyspraxia did not have significantly different AQ or EQ scores than those without co-morbid dyspraxia. However, in the control group (without ASC), those with dyspraxia had significantly higher AQ and lower EQ scores than those without dyspraxia. Conclusions Dyspraxia is significantly more prevalent in adults with ASC compared to controls, confirming reports that motor coordination difficulties are significantly more common in this group. Interestingly, in the general population, dyspraxia was associated with significantly higher autistic traits and lower empathy. These results suggest that motor coordination skills are important for effective social skills and empathy.
Bibliographical noteThe datasets analysed during the current study are not publicly available due to the terms and conditions participants agree to when they register in CARD, but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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- Autism spectrum conditions
- Autistic traits
- Social skills