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Phys Ther. 2019 Jun 11. pii: pzz084. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzz084. [Epub ahead of print]

Postural Control and Interceptive Skills in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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Department of Physical Therapy, Fooyin University, 151 Jinxue Road, Daliao District, Kaohsiung City 83102, Taiwan; and School and Graduate Institute of Physical Therapy, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.
School and Graduate Institute of Physical Therapy, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University.
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Psychiatry, National Taiwan University Hospital.
School and Graduate Institute of Physical Therapy, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University; and Physical Therapy Center, National Taiwan University Hospital.



Increasing evidence shows common motor deficits associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which may relate to impaired planning and control processes of the sensorimotor system. Catching is a fundamental motor skill that requires coordination between vision, posture, and arm movements. Although postural control and ball catching have been shown to be impaired in children with ASD, previous studies have not investigated how these components are integrated.


The objective of this study was to investigate the sensorimotor control of arm movements and postural adjustments during ball catching in children with and without ASD.


This study employed a cross-sectional design.


Fifteen children with ASD (8.8 ± 1.2 years of age, 12 boys) and 15 age- and gender-matched typically developing (TD) children participated in this study. Children were asked to catch a ball rolling down a ramp in 6 test conditions in which visual inputs and ramp direction were manipulated to provide different sensory conditions and postural demands.


Compared to TD peers, children with ASD had increased difficulties catching the balls especially those from the lateral directions. They less used visual information to plan for catching motion, demonstrated less and delayed anticipatory postural adjustments, and exhibited increased corrective control.


The sample excluded children with intellectual disability and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders that might reduce the generalizability to the whole ASD population.


Our results suggest that motor difficulties present in children with ASD may result from compromised sensorimotor integration in planning and control of movements.


Autism Spectrum Disorder; Catching; Interceptive Skill; Posture; Sensory-Motor Integration


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