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Restricted, repetitive behaviors (RRBs) are one of the core diagnostic criteria of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and include simple repetitive motor behaviors and more complex cognitive behaviors, such as compulsions and restricted interests. In addition to the core symptoms, impaired movement is often observed in ASD. Research suggests that the postural system in individuals with ASD is immature and may never reach adult levels. RRBs have been related to postural sway in individuals with mental retardation. Our goals were to determine whether subjects with ASD had greater postural sway and whether RBS-R scores were related to the magnitude of postural sway. We compared the center of pressure (COP) sway area during quiet stance with scores on the Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised (RBS-R) in children with ASD and typically developing (TD) controls ages 3–16. All subjects had Non-verbal IQ > 70. Subjects performed four quiet stance trials at a self-selected stance width for 20 s. Subjects with ASD had greater postural sway area compared to controls. Not surprisingly, subjects with ASD exhibited greater frequencies and intensities of RRBs overall and on all six subscales. Further, there was a positive correlation between postural sway area and presence of RRBs. Interestingly, results of the postural sway area for the ASD group suggests that roughly half of the ASD subjects scored comparable to TD controls, whereas the other half scored >2 SD worse. Motor impaired children did not have significantly worse IQ scores, but were younger and had more RRBs. Results support previous findings of relationships between RRBs and postural control. It appears that motor control impairments may characterize a subset of individuals with ASD. Better delineation of motor control abilities in individuals with ASD will be important to help explain variations of abilities in ASD, inform treatment, and guide examination of underlying neural involvement in this very diverse disorder.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.