Senia I. Smoot



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Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) struggle with sensory regulation, resulting in decreased motor control, unusual gaze patterns, and decreased postural stability. Sensory integration therapy is a common therapy used to help children with ASD with these issues, however, there is insufficient quantitative research concerning the actual results of sensory integration therapy with respect to human biomechanics. It is the objective of this study to quantify the acute effects of a vestibular treatment on postural stability, gait variability, and gaze patterns. Nine children with ASD and three neurotypical controls will participate in this pilot study. Three subjects with ASD will have their step width variability and other gait parameters recorded using wearable inertial measurement units while walking an indoor path. Three subjects with ASD will have their center of pressure (COP) and sway area will be collected by standing on a balance plate under a variety of conditions. Gaze and fixation markers of three subjects with ASD will be recorded via eyes tracking equipment while subjects watched a short video. Once these baseline tests are conducted, subjects will undergo a conventional vestibular therapy session on a swing. Subjects will then be respectively retested to gauge any changes in balance, gait, and gaze patterns induced by the therapy session. It is anticipated that the subjects with ASD will display a significant increase (p<.05) in postural stability, a decrease in gait variability, and a decrease in self-regulating gaze patterns after undergoing a vestibular therapy session.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research

Primary Advisor

Kimberly E. Bigelow

Primary Advisor's Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Stander Symposium poster

A Pilot Study of the Effect of an Acute Vestibular Therapy on Postural Stability, Gait Variability, and Gaze Patterns of Children with ASD