OBJECTIVE. To establish hand strength development trends in children with autism and to investigate correlations between grip and pinch strength, components of handwriting, and functional activities in children with and without autism.

METHOD. Fifty-one children were divided into two groups: typically developing children and children on the autism spectrum. Each child completed testing for pinch and grip strength, handwriting legibility, pencil control, and independence in functional activities.

RESULTS. The children with autism followed the same strength development trends as the typically developing children. Grip strength correlated with pencil control in both groups and with handwriting legibility in the typically developing children but not in the children with autism. Grip and pinch strength correlated with independence with functional activities in both groups.

CONCLUSION. This study provides evidence that grip and pinch strength are important components in developing pencil control, handwriting legibility, and independence with functional fine motor tasks.

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