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Autism Res Treat. 2015;2015:741480. doi: 10.1155/2015/741480. Epub 2015 Apr 2.

Gait deviations in children with autism spectrum disorders: a review.

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1
Discipline of Physiotherapy, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
2
Discipline of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.

Abstract

In recent years, it has become clear that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have difficulty with gross motor function and coordination, factors which influence gait. Knowledge of gait abnormalities may be useful for assessment and treatment planning. This paper reviews the literature assessing gait deviations in children with ASD. Five online databases were searched using keywords "gait" and "autism," and 11 studies were found which examined gait in childhood ASD. Children with ASD tend to augment their walking stability with a reduced stride length, increased step width and therefore wider base of support, and increased time in the stance phase. Children with ASD have reduced range of motion at the ankle and knee during gait, with increased hip flexion. Decreased peak hip flexor and ankle plantar flexor moments in children with ASD may imply weakness around these joints, which is further exhibited by a reduction in ground reaction forces at toe-off in children with ASD. Children with ASD have altered gait patterns to healthy controls, widened base of support, and reduced range of motion. Several studies refer to cerebellar and basal ganglia involvement as the patterns described suggest alterations in those areas of the brain. Further research should compare children with ASD to other clinical groups to improve assessment and treatment planning.

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