Posted by: miriamjang | March 24, 2011

Poor Muscle Tone and Severity of Autism

Here are the results of our latest research study, which found a high correlation between muscle strength and autism severity. Basically, children with weaker muscle strength tended to have more severe autism; the more severely autistic children had roughly half the hand strength of the children with milder autism.
This is another demonstration that autism is a biological disorder affecting the whole body, and not only a disorder that affects the brain.
It also suggests that there may be a common mechanism affecting both the muscles and the brain, and one likely candidate are mitochondria, the “factories” in every cell that generate ATP (energy) for the brain and the muscles.
This also suggests that carnitine supplementation and similar treatments may be helpful in individuals with autism, and we are actively pursuing research on such treatments.
This study was funded in part by the Autism Research Institute.
The link between low muscle tone (especially core muscles) and poor fine motor skills has to do with the way in which our brains and body develop. Development proceeds in a mass-to-specific orientation. So, development happens in the head and trunk first and then moves to the limbs and from gross motor development to fine motor development. Meaning if someone does not have postural control and muscle tone then fine motor activities (such as handwriting) are going to be harder to master.

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