Gait function in high-functioning autism and Asperger’s disorder: Evidence for basal-ganglia and cerebellar involvement? European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 15, 256-264

Dept. of Psychological Medicine, Monash University, Level 3, Block P, Monash Medical Centre 246 Clayton Road, Clayton, VIC, Australia 3168.
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 3.34). 09/2006; 15(5):256-64. DOI: 10.1007/s00787-006-0530-y
Source: PubMed


Gait abnormalities have been widely reported in individuals with autism and Asperger's disorder. There is controversy as to whether the cerebellum or the basal-ganglia frontostriatal regions underpin these abnormalities. This is the first direct comparison of gait and upper-body postural features in autism and Asperger's disorder. Clinical and control groups were matched according to age, height, weight, performance, and full scale IQ. Consistent with Hallet's (1993) cerebellar-gait hypothesis, the autistic group showed significantly increased stride-length variability in their gait in comparison to control and Asperger's disorder participants. No quantitative gait deficits were found for the Asperger's disorder group. In support of Damasio and Maurer's (1982) basal-ganglia frontostriatal-gait hypothesis, both clinical groups were rated as showing abnormal arm posturing, however, only the Asperger's group were rated as significantly different from controls in terms of head and trunk posturing. While DSM-IV-TR suggests that Asperger's disorder, but not autism, is associated with motoric clumsiness, our data suggest that both clinical groups are uncoordinated and lacking in motor smoothness. Gait differences in autism and Asperger's disorder were suggested to reflect differential involvement of the cerebellum, with commonalities reflecting similar involvement of the basal-ganglia frontostriatal region.

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Available from: Peter Enticott, Apr 14, 2015
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    • "As regards the use of different assessment methods, it should be noted that subtle abnormalities in muscle tone, motor controls, praxis and postural control are often difficult to measure reliably with qualitative analysis, even with expert clinical examination. Two recent works, however, (Rinehart et al., 2006a; 2006b) have used both quantitative and qualitative analysis of gait to investigate motor function in two groups of non–mentally retarded children with AD. The first group with AD, aged 4 to 6 years, showed greater difficulty walking along a stride line and greater stride-length and stride-time variability than the control group, and, on qualitative analysis, the children with AD proved to be uncoordinated and lacking in motor smoothness, with postural abnormalities in the head and trunk. "
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