Mounting evidence suggests that poorer motor skills may be related to more severe autism symptoms. This study investigated if atypical white matter microstructure in the brain mediated the relationship between motor skills and ASD symptom severity. Sixty-seven males with ASD and 42 males with typical development (5–33 years old) completed a diffusion tensor imaging scan and measures of grip strength, finger tapping, and autism symptom severity. Within the ASD group, weaker grip strength predicted more severe autism symptoms. Fractional anisotropy of the brainstem’s corticospinal tract predicted both grip strength and autism symptom severity and mediated the relationship between the two. These findings suggest that brainstem white matter may contribute to autism symptoms and grip strength in ASD.
- Diffusion tensor imaging
- Finger tapping
- Grip strength
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology