Authors: Emily In, Jiaqi Chen, Zhigang Li, Ph.D., Matthew W. Mosconi, Ph.D., Zheng Wang, Ph.D.
Faculty Mentor: Zheng Wang
College: College of Public Health and Health Professions
Sensorimotor impairments are common in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), although the extent to which sensory processing issues affect motor control and coordination in individuals with ASD is not well understood. The goal of this project is to enhance current knowledge about sensorimotor abnormalities in ASD by examining the effects of visual and proprioceptive information to postural stability in ASD. Twenty-five school-aged children with ASD and 11 matched healthy controls participated in tests of static stance on a force platform. During the assessment, a pair of lightweight tendon vibrators (TVs) was attached on participants’ Achilles tendon of the ankle joints. When turned on, both TVs vibrate at a high frequency of 80Hz to create a transient proprioceptive illusion of lengthened Achilles tendons of both legs. Participants completed the tests with and without the TVs (i.e., TVon vs. TVoff) and lights on and off (LTon vs. LToff). The results showed that, relative to controls, children with ASD were more affected by proprioceptive manipulations compared to visual manipulations, suggesting that patients utilize proprioceptive inputs more readily than visual inputs in static stance tasks.