Preprint / Version 1

Community-based postural control assessment in autistic individuals indicates a similar, but delayed, trajectory compared to neurotypical individuals


  • Nicholas E Fears University of Michigan
  • Gabriela M Sherrod University of Alabama-Birmingham
  • Tylan N Templin Southwest Research Institute
  • Nicoleta L Bugnariu University of the Pacific
  • Rita M Patterson University of North Texas Health Science Center
  • Haylie L Miller University of Michigan, School of Kinesiology



autism spectrum disorder, postural control, balance, sensorimotor, sensory reweighting, motor development


Autistic individuals exhibit significant sensorimotor difficulties. Postural stability and control are foundational motor skills for successfully performing many activities of daily living. In neurotypical development, postural stability and control develop throughout childhood and adolescence. In autistic development, previous studies have focused primarily on individual age groups (e.g., childhood, adolescence, adulthood) or only controlled for age using age-matching. Here, we examined the age trajectories of postural stability and control in autism from childhood through adolescents using standardized clinical assessments. In study 1, we tested the postural stability of autistic (n=27) and neurotypical (n=41) children, adolescents, and young adults aged 7-20 years during quiet standing on a force plate in three visual conditions: Eyes Open (EO), Eyes Closed (EC), and eyes open with the head in a translucent dome (Dome). Postural sway variability decreased as age increased for both groups, but autistic participants showed greater variability than neurotypical participants across age. In study 2, we tested autistic (n=21) and neurotypical (n=32) children and adolescents aged 7-16 years during a dynamic postural control task with 9 targets. Postural control efficiency increased as age increased for both groups, but autistic participants were less efficient compared to neurotypical participants across age. Together, these results indicate that autistic individuals have a similar age trajectory for postural stability and control compared to neurotypical individuals, but have lower postural stability and control overall.


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