Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

Advisor 1

Robbin Hickman

First Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Second Committee Member

Kai Yu Ho

Third Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Number of Pages



The purpose of this study was to compare motor performance of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to that of age-matched peers who are typically developing (TD) on motor control tasks plus symmetry and variability of gait parameters across four walking conditions. A sample of convenience of children with ASD (n=6) and peers who are TD (n=6) were recruited. Motor control was assessed using initiation and completion times on the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test. Gait parameters were collected using a computerized walkway under four trial conditions: 1) walking at self-selected velocity (SSV); 2) walking during a tray-carrying task (dual tasking); 3) walking over a visible obstacle (feed-forward control); and 4) walking over an unexpected obstacle (feedback control). Independent t-tests were used to test for between-group differences in TUG initiation and completion times and gait parameters and variability by condition. Paired t-tests were used to assess within-group symmetry by condition. Findings showed that ASD and TD groups had similar TUG times, gait parameters across the four conditions, and variability in gait (all p>.05). Parents of children with ASD perceived their children as moving differently than their peers, but parents of children in the TD group did not (p=.014). The TD group had significant asymmetry of right versus left single limb support time (p=.034) in the dual task condition, while the ASD group demonstrated significant asymmetry of heel-to-heel distance in the feedback condition (p=.049). Children with ASD may benefit from being given a dual-task with an external focus and from delaying the introduction of unanticipated perturbations until skilled movement patterns have been established. Future research should focus on variability and motor tasks that are less repetitive than gait is warranted.


Autism spectrum disorders; Autism spectrum disorders in children; Children with autism spectrum disorders; Gait in humans; Motor ability; Motor ability in children—Testing; t-test (Statistics); Walking


Child Psychology | Motor Control | Pediatrics | Physical Therapy | Rehabilitation and Therapy

File Format


File Size

675 Kb

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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