Dyspraxia and autistic traits in adults with and without autism spectrum conditions

Sarah Cassidy, Penny Hannant, Teresa Tassavoli, Carrie Allison, Paula Smith, Simon Baron-Cohen

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    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number48
    JournalMolecular Autism
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2016

    Bibliographical note

    The 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.
    This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


    • Autism spectrum conditions
    • Dyspraxia
    • Co-morbidity
    • Autistic traits
    • Social skills


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