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Visual feedback increases postural stability in children with autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are often associated with poor motor control, which depends greatly on postural stability. Firstly, this study examined postural stability in young children with ASD, as little is known about early postural skills in this population. Children with ASD are known to depend considerably on visual cues when maintaining balance. We therefore wished to explore whether visual stimuli would in turn improve postural stability. We recruited 18 children with ASD (aged 611) and also 12 age-matched typically developing (TD) children. We measured their baseline postural stability and their ability to maintain balance when provided contingent visual feedback of the movements of their center of pressure. Postural performances were measured with a force platform. Baseline postural stability of children with ASD was significantly reduced compared to TD children, as indicated by higher sway scores. When provided visual feedback, children with ASD improved their balance significantly. We conclude that although deficient postural control in ASD is present in childhood, this may be improved in facilitating settings where children with ASD can rely on visual cues.



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