Decreased dynamical complexity during quiet stance in children with autism spectrum disorders

Gait Posture. 2014;39(1):420-3. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2013.08.016. Epub 2013 Aug 23.


Background: Postural control deficits in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are widely acknowledged; however, the underlying biomechanical features of these deficits remain unknown. Nonlinear analyses provide insight into the nature of how movement is controlled and have the potential to provide new insight into the postural control abnormalities associated with ASD. The purpose of this study was to further investigate postural control deficits in children with ASD through linear and nonlinear analyses of center of pressure (COP) data.

Methods: We evaluated COP data during quiet standing for 16 children with ASD and 17 age-matched typically developing (TD) children. The magnitude of COP fluctuations (COP ranges, velocity, and sway area) and complexity of postural control dynamics, quantified by multiscale entropy (MSE), were compared across groups.

Results: Children with ASD displayed larger fluctuations in their COP data, observed in COP ranges (95.5% mediolaterally and 46.9% anteroposteriorly, p<0.05 respectively) and COP sway area (885%, p<0.05). Children with ASD also displayed less complexity in their COP data, observed in the MSE complexity index (CI) (32.4% mediolaterally and 35.7% anteroposteriorly, p<0.05 respectively).

Conclusions: The present study successfully revealed that children with ASD have more repetitive patterns in their COP data, indicating a less complex control of posture, on multiple time scales, during quiet stance. These findings suggest a more regular or restricted control of posture and may be an initial step in linking postural instability to stereotypic behavior and the neurobiology of ASD.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD); Center of pressure (COP); Multiscale entropy (MSE); Nonlinear; Posture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / physiopathology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Pressure*