Developmental trajectory of postural control during various sensory conditions in typical and atypical children

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Stanfill, Christopher John

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Developmental delays are known to exist in children with autism when compared to their typically developing peers. Foundations of these delays stem from the cognitive and motor performance realm, but information regarding specific characteristics, such as postural stability and sensory integration, are less defined. In this study, postural stability differences were investigated between children with autism and neurotypical children. Past research has shown the role of sensory integration during postural sway has been a strong indicator in showing developmental progress. Due to the focus of the protocol being on static balance, the Modified-Central Test of Sensory Interaction for Balance was used to measure postural stability. The age range for this study is set between 3 and 5 years of age and follows CTSIB protocol to assess 32 neurotypical developing children and compare their results to an archived data set containing CTSIB results from a sample of children with autism. Results from the study indicate that when the autism and neurotypical groups were compared, no significant main effect was found. Developmental differences were found across age groups in that 5 year olds displayed more stability than 4 year olds, but there was no difference between 3 and 4 year olds or 3 and 5 year olds. Further analyses of these developmental results indicated that children in the neurotypical group follow an expected developmental progression while children in the autism group display a divergence from this typical progression. Findings of this research add to the existing literature that children with autism display inconsistent developmental patterns which have a strong relationship with the delayed activity levels of these children. The knowledge and understanding of these delays will allow practitioners to implement specially designed programs to ensure that these children receive the activity that they need and deserve.



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