Rethinking Autism: Implications of Sensory and Movement Differences


  • Anne M. Donnellan
  • David A. Hill
  • Martha R. Leary



Autism, Movement Differences, Movement Disorders, Sensory and Movement Differences


Descriptions of autism in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals of the APA and throughout much of the history of autism emphasize difficulties in social interaction, communication and imaginative play. Recent reports by self-advocates, neuroscientists and other researchers suggest that sensory movement differences may play a significant part in the lives of those who live with autism. Sensory movement differences may include difficulties in starting, stopping, continuing, combining and switching motor action, speech, thought, memory and emotion. A review of these reports, the experience of those with other movement differences, and implications for understanding individuals with autism are presented. Suggestions are included on how knowledge of sensory movement differences may offer guidance in rethinking assumptions about autism characteristics, social interactions, communication and other supports.


KEYWORDS: Autism, Movement Differences, Movement Disorders, Sensory-Movement Differences








How to Cite

Donnellan, A. M., Hill, D. A., & Leary, M. R. (2010). Rethinking Autism: Implications of Sensory and Movement Differences. Disability Studies Quarterly, 30(1).



Special Topic: Autism and the Concept of Neurodiversity: Peer-Reviewed Articles