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Gait function in newly diagnosed children with autism: cerebellar and basal ganglia related motor disorder.

journal contribution
posted on 01.10.2006, 00:00 authored by Nicole Rinehart, B J Tonge, R Iansek, J McGinley, A V Brereton, Peter EnticottPeter Enticott, J L Bradshaw
We investigated gait in newly diagnosed children with autism. From our previous study with 6- to 14-year-olds, we hypothesized that motor symptoms indicative of basal ganglia and cerebellar dysfunction would appear across the developmental trajectory of autism. Two groups were recruited: children with autism (eight males, three females; mean age 5 y 10 mo [SD 9 mo]; range 4 y 4 mo-6 y 9 mo) and a comparison group of typically developing children (eight males, three females; mean age 5 y 9 mo [SD 1 y 1 mo]; range 4 y 3 mo-7 y 2 mo). The GAITRite Walkway was used to gather data from average gait and intra-walk measurements. Experienced physiotherapists analyzed gait qualitatively. Groups were matched according to age, height, weight, and IQ; although not statistically significant, IQ was lower in the group with autism. Spatiotemporal gait data for children with autism were compatible with findings from patients with cerebellar ataxia: specifically, greater difficulty walking along a straight line, and the coexistence of variable stride length and duration. Children with autism were also less coordinated and rated as more variable and inconsistent (i.e. reduced smoothness) relative to the comparison group. Postural abnormalities in the head and trunk suggest additional involvement of the fronto-striatal basal ganglia region. Abnormal gait features are stable across key developmental periods and are, therefore, promising for use in clinical screening for autism.

History

Journal

Developmental medicine and child neurology

Volume

48

Issue

10

Pagination

819 - 824

Publisher

Wiley-Blackwell

Location

Chichester, Eng.

ISSN

0012-1622

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2006, Wiley-Blackwell