Emotional Contexts of Postural Control in Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Motor and social impairments are commonly reported to overlap in neurodevelopmental disorders. However, assessment of movement problems via standardised assessment requires an understanding of both implicit and explicit instruction e.g. ‘stand on one foot as long as you can’. Standardised assessment is further complicated where anxiety may affect performance; evidenced by the literature with respect to balance and anxiety. There are few, if any studies, directly contrasting postural control between children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and those with developmental coordination disorder (DCD).
Objectives: This study will explore the potential relationship between emotional factors and balance in children with ASD and DCD and implications for assessment.
Methods: A scoping review profiling the motor impairments and emotional problems of children with ASD and DCD. Secondary data from an intervention study will contrast performance on tests of balance from the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC) and compare associations between balance and emotional factors as measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).
This paper will present data contrasting use of standardised measures of static and dynamic balance between children with ASD and those with DCD. Data on 48 children (median age 8 years; range 5 years-4 months to 10 years-8 months; 12 with ASD, 36 with DCD) were available. Findings reflect similarities in performance with a lack of distinction between these groups on standardised testing on both static and dynamic balance on the MABC (p>.05). Spearman correlations reflect an association between poor dynamic balance and emotional difficulties on the SDQ (rho =-.382, p = .016). No associations were found between emotional difficulties and other motor skills.
The literature and preliminary findings support a potential relationship between emotional adjustment and motor skills, particularly balance. The results and interpretation will be considered with respect to administration of assessments, consequent interpretation of findings and implications for research and practice.
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