Article

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 91-102

First online:

Goal Directed Locomotion and Balance Control in Autistic Children

  • S. Vernazza-MartinAffiliated withLaboratoire Sport et Culture EA2931, Université Paris-X NanterreS.Vernazza-Martin Email author 
  • , N. MartinAffiliated withLodyc UMR 7617, Université Pierre et Marie Curie
  • , A. VernazzaAffiliated withService de Pédopsychiatrie, Centre Médico-Psychologique de l’enfant et de sa famille, Hôpital Sainte-Marguerite
  • , A. Lepellec-MullerAffiliated withLaboratoire Sport et Culture EA2931, Université Paris-X Nanterre
  • , M. RufoAffiliated withService de Pédopsychiatrie, Centre Médico-Psychologique de l’enfant et de sa famille, Hôpital Sainte-Marguerite
  • , J. MassionAffiliated withLaboratoire Parole et Langage, Université de Provence-CNRS
  • , C. AssaianteAffiliated withLaboratoire Développement et Pathologie du Mouvement, CNRS

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Abstract

This article focuses on postural anticipation and multi-joint coordination during locomotion in healthy and autistic children. Three questions were addressed: (1) Are gait parameters modified in autistic children? (2) Is equilibrium control affected in autistic children? (3) Is locomotion adjusted to the experimenter-imposed goal? Six healthy children and nine autistic children were instructed to walk to a location (a child-sized playhouse) inside the psychomotor room of the pedopsychiatric centre located approximately 5 m in front of them. A kinematic analysis of gait (ELITE system) indicates that, rather than gait parameters or balance control, the main components affected in autistic children during locomotion are the goal of the action, the orientation towards this goal and the definition of the trajectory due probably to an impairment of movement planning.

Keywords

Human development goal-directed locomotion motor control anticipation coordination autism