The role of motor abilities in the development of typical and atypical social behaviour

PI: Dr Elisabeth Hill (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Funding: British Academy

Recently researchers have identified that developing motor skills aid the development of other abilities such as language, school achievement and social interaction. In our research we are focusing on how the development of motor skills (e.g., sitting upright, crawling, walking) and social interaction (e.g., pointing, talking, following another person’s gaze) are related to one another. For the current project, we will analyse data that have been collected between the ages of 6 and 36 months from a range of motor and social measures, using statistical models to further our understanding of the complex relationships between these different areas of functioning. The data will be analysed from infants at low and high risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a disorder widely known for difficulties in social interaction, and which puts a child at increased risk of delayed motor development. Increasing our understanding of the relationships between motor and social skills could allow the development of more appropriate interventions in activities of daily living as well as education in order to improve outcomes for children with this condition.