The Role of Sensorimotor Difficulties in Autism Spectrum Conditions

  • Penny Hannant

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) refers to neurological differences in how individuals communicate and interact socially, in addition to repetitive, restricted interests and behaviours. Since the first pioneering reports of ASC, research has attempted to uncover the cause of the diverse range of related difficulties, generating a number of theories behind the roots of the condition. Such theories do not incorporate all of the symptoms associated with ASC, and progress may have been hampered by the lack of consideration for the non-social difficulties that are apparent, such as repetitive behaviours. The research presented in this thesis aims to address the restricted integration of these non-social difficulties, in the form of sensorimotor adversities, by first analysing the evidence for sensorimotor difficulties in ASC from both a psychological and biological perspective. The thesis then goes on to demonstrate the presence of sensorimotor difficulties in ASC using both small scale objective and large scale subjective studies. Following this, the thesis compares and contrasts ASC to a similar neurodevelopmental disorder, Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), in order to identify any similarities and differences between the two conditions. Thereafter, presenting a new theoretical framework to explore and understand how ASC may develop: ‘The Sensorimotor Theory’. Finally, by adopting this new theory as a foundation for ASC, current sensorimotor interventions are explored and a pilot study for a new intervention is trialled, measuring both the psychological and biological impact of GABA Oolong tea.
    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University

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