Children with autism often have more trouble with handwriting than their non-autistic peers, new research indicates.

In a study of 28 children ages eight to 13 — half with autism and normal IQ’s and half without any developmental issues — researchers observed the children as they attempted to copy a sentence using their best handwriting. Each child was evaluated based on the legibility, form, alignment, size and spacing of their writing as well as at their motor skills.

Half of the kids with autism scored less than 80 percent on the evaluation while only one of the children without autism scored below that threshold, the researchers report in the Nov. 10 issue of the journal Neurology.

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Even though handwriting quality was worse in the children with autism, all of the kids in the study were able to properly align, space and size their letters.

“Our results suggest that therapies targeting motor skills may help improve handwriting in children with autism, which is important for success in school and building self-esteem,” said study author Amy Bastian of the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “Such therapies could include training of letter formation and general training of fine motor control to help improve the quality of their writing.”

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