Brittany G. Travers, PhD – Slide of the Week

Brittany Travers Slide of the Week

Title: Postural Balance and Daily Living Skills in Children and Adolescents with Autism

Legend: If one cannot consistently rely on steadiness during standing, everyday tasks such as stepping out of the shower or cooking at the stove may become substantially more complex. Therefore, we investigated the relation between postural balance and daily living skill (DLS) performance in youth on the autism spectrum. Balance was measured with the Bruininks–Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, 2nd Edition (BOT‑2), and daily living skills were measured with the parent-reported Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale,2nd Edition (VABS-II). Our results suggested that poorer balance was associated with poorer DLS performance (above-and-beyond the effects of age) but only in individuals who had below-average IQ (67–104). In those with above-average IQ (105–135), there was no relation between balance and DLS performance, even though both IQ groups exhibited similar balance performance. This pattern of results suggests that those with higher IQ may be implementing compensatory strategies to offset balance challenges during daily-living tasks, a possibility that we plan to explore further in future research. By understanding the contributions of motor skills in combination with other cognitive and environmental factors, our work aims to enhance the design and efficacy of interventions that target daily living skill challenges in youth on the autism spectrum.

Citation: Fisher, A., Engel, C., Geist, R., Lillie, K., Lutman, S., & Travers, B. G. (2018). Brief report: Postural balance and daily living skills in children and adolescents with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.  doi: 10.1007/s10803-018-3558-1

Abstract: The current study investigated the relation between postural balance and performance of DLS in youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Fifty-two youth with ASD (6–17 years; IQ ≥ 67) completed standardized balance testing and parent-reported DLS measures. Results showed a positive association between balance and DLS that was specific to youth with below-average IQ. While balance challenges were evident across the IQ spectrum, youth with above-average IQ did not exhibit an association between balance and DLS, perhaps suggestive of compensatory strategies implemented to offset balance challenges during daily-living tasks. These results underscore the need to better understand the contributions of motor challenges to DLS in youth with ASD within the context of broader cognitive and environmental factors.

About the Lab: The Motor Brain and Development Lab is dedicated to advancing knowledge about motor development, brain development, and independent living skills to promote and enhance quality of life for individuals with and without developmental disorders. Our current projects specialize in examining motor and brain development in individuals on the autism spectrum.

Slide of the Week Archives