Autism is associated with a wide and complex array of neurobehavioural symptoms. Examination of the motor system offers a particularly appealing method for studying autism by providing information about this syndrome that is relatively immune to experimental influence. In this article, we considered the relationship between possible movement disturbance and symptoms of autism and introduced an experimental model that may be useful for rehabilitation and diagnostic purposes: the reach–to–grasp movement. Research is reviewed that characterizes kinematically the reach–to–grasp movement in children with autism compared with age–matched ‘controls’. Unlike the age–matched children, autistic children showed differences in movement planning and execution, supporting the view that movement disturbances may play a part in the phenomenon of autism.