Article Title



Lauren A. Luginsland, Justin A. Haegele, Hunter J. Bennett. Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.

BACKGROUND: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a variety of behavioral and/or physiological features. While studies have investigated walking coordination variability in autistic individuals, research has not explored coordination patterns among autistic siblings. Mirroring behaviors can be seen in autistic individuals particularly around friends and family. The purpose of our study was to investigate the walking coordination of autistic siblings compared to aged-matched autistic and control individuals. METHODS: Four sets of autistic siblings (ASDS) (aged 15.3±1.9 yrs, BMI 22.3±7.3kg/m2), eight autistic non-siblings (ASD) (aged 14.0±1.2 yrs, BMI 20.8±1.6kg/m2), and eight controls (CON) (aged 14.8±1.6 yrs, BMI 21.0±4.9kg/m2) walked at self-selected speeds (1.33±0.11m/s, 1.39±0.26m/s & 1.39±0.21m/s, respectively). Three-dimensional kinematics were collected and analyzed using Visual3D. Modified vector coding was used to determine the frequency of hip-knee and knee-ankle coordination patterns during weight acceptance (WA), midstance (MS), and terminal stance (TS) phases of the gait cycle. Non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis tests (alpha = 0.01) were used to compare the median frequencies between groups. RESULTS: No statistically significant differences were found for any coordination pattern for any phase (all p>.01). For the hip-knee coordination patterns, all groups exhibited dominant knee flexion during WA, anti-phase hip flexion-knee flexion during MS, and antiphase hip extension and knee flexion during TS . For the knee-ankle coordination patterns, all groups exhibited a dominant knee flexion pattern during WA and in-phase knee extension-ankle dorsiflexion during MS. During TS, the ASDS and CON groups exhibited dominant knee extension pattern, while the ASD group demonstrated anti-phase ankle dorsiflexion-knee extension. CONCLUSION: Considering the lack of group differences, walking appears to require a robust set of coordination patterns that supersede behavioral disorders. Future work in siblings’ research should consider including other health-related measures and additional coordinative (e.g., goal oriented) and/or variability tests to determine if cohabitation influences movement patterns in autistic persons.

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