Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 8, pp 3257–3277 | Cite as

Trajectories of Posture Development in Infants With and Without Familial Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Nina B. LeezenbaumEmail author
  • Jana M. Iverson
Original Paper


This study investigated early posture development prospectively in infants at heightened (HR) vs. low risk (Low Risk; LR) for ASD. Fourteen HR infants diagnosed with ASD (HR-ASD), 17 HR infants with language delay (HR-LD), 29 HR infants with no diagnosis (HR-ND), and 25 LR infants were videotaped at home for 25 min during everyday activities and play at 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 months. All postures were coded and the sustainment source was identified for supported postures. Relative to LR infants, HR-ASD infants and to a lesser extent HR-LD infants exhibited distinct postural trajectories that revealed slower development of more advanced postures. In addition, subtle differences in posture sustainment differentiated HR-ASD from HR-LD infants.


Infant siblings Autism spectrum disorder Posture Motor development 



This article is based on a dissertation submitted to the University of Pittsburgh in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the first author Nina B. Leezenbaum. The research was supported by Autism Speaks and the National Institutes of Health (R01 HD41607 and R01 HD54979 to JMI) and an Autism Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship to NBL. Additional support was provided by NIH HD35469 and HD055748 to N. Minshew. We thank members of the Infant Communication Lab at the University of Pittsburgh for assistance with data collection and coding, Dr. Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal for statistical advice, and Drs. Nancy Minshew, Diane Williams, and Susan B. Campbell, Celia Brownell, and Michael Pogue-Geile for valuable contributions at various stages of the project. A special thanks to the families and infants who participated in the research.

Author Contributions

NBL jointly conceived of and designed the study, participated in data collection, conducted analyses and interpretation of data, and drafted the manuscript; JMI jointly conceived of and designed the study, coordinated data collection, assisted in interpretation of the data, and provided extensive revisions and feedback of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was funded by Autism Speaks and the National Institutes of Health (R01 HD41607 and R01 HD54979) with additional support form an Autism Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained for all individual participants in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, Merck Child Outpatient ClinicUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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