Movement research – ASD #3

In 2020, Bojanek et al published a study addressing postural control in standing and the initiation of stepping in autistic children (age 6-19 years) The results suggested the participants were less stable in standing and there was reduced lateral sway (frontal plane) and greater weight shift velocity when stepping. (I interpret the latter observations as the children restricting motion as a means of control and using momentum because they are unable to efficiently control the movement.) As well, increased difficulty with postural control variables was correlated with more severe and restrictive repetitive behaviours indicating that this core feature could be related to movement control challenges.

This 2023 study by García-Liñeira et al studied neurotypical development in children age 6-11 years. They data indicated that there should be gradual increasing strategies/control of movement in the frontal plane during balance and a decreased reliance on sagittal plane (flexion-extension) strategies.

Combining this information, it would appear that autistic children could benefit from balance work that addresses frontal plane (medial-lateral) strategies.

Mature control of lateral weight shift in standing and movement is driven by central stability – the ability to stabilize the lumbar spine and pelvis which then allows us to shift weight at the pelvis (rather than continue to use lateral flexion of the trunk). Alignment of the rib cage and pelvis and creation of adequate intra-abdominal pressure by the inner core team is the foundation of this stability. Finally, in practice central stability then needs to be partnered with the outer core postural synergists in order to create more effective postural control in movement.

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