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Light Touch, Postural Sway and Children with Autism

Gait & Posture published research comparing 16 children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and 16 typically developing children (TD) to determine the effects of a light fingertip touch on postural control.  Postural sway was measured with a force platform in different conditions:
anteroposterior (AP) and mediolateral (ML) directions, light fingertip touch (LT) and no touch (NT) conditions, and with both eyes open (EO) and both eyes closed (EC).

The results indicated the following:

  1. ML sway was significantly greater in the ASD group than in the TDC group.
  2. A significant reduction in postural sway in the ML direction in the LT condition compared with the NT condition which applied to both the EO and EC conditions.
  3. The reduction in ML sway between the NT and LT conditions was significantly greater in the ASD than the TDC group.

The researchers concluded that the effects of a light fingertip touch on reducing postural sway appears to be more efficient in children with ASD compared with TDC therefore suggesting that a light fingertip touch may be helpful in improving postural stability in children with ASD.

Reference:  Fu-Chen Chen, Hsin-Lin Chen, Jui-Hung Tu, Chia-Liang Tsai. Effects of light touch on postural sway and visual search accuracy: A test of functional integration and resource competition hypotheses. Gait & Posture.  Volume 42, Issue 3, September 2015, Pages 280–284

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