Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Metal And Material Engineering


Jeffrey Eggleston


Autism is a socio-behavioral disorder, and diagnoses are conducted through behavioral screening instruments. Recent research suggests motor deficits may be a core symptom of the disorder, as children with autism present with deficits in motor development, locomotor skills, and postural instability. In addition, children with autism often have affected, executive function, attention, and perception cognitive domains. Different gait speeds have been used to examine gait adaptations in other clinical populations. Additionally, individuals with decreased cognitive abilities have demonstrated difficulties in modulating their walking speed. There is limited research on mechanisms children with autism use to alter their gait speed, or if cognitive abilities play a role in this task. Therefore, this multi-aim project sought to examine the mobility and cognitive mechanisms involved in altering gait speed in children with autism. Children with autism demonstrated different lower extremity angular joint positions in different speeds in the pre-swing sub-phase of gait, leading to increased hip extension, increased knee flexion, and decreased dorsiflexion at increased speeds. Large effect sizes observed in the ankle angular joint positions, suggest a primary kinematic strategy that involves the ankle when changing speed. Children with autism demonstrated no differences in dynamic stability when comparing different speeds, indicating dynamic stability is unaffected when altering gait speed. Children with autism presented with reduced cognitive abilities and slower cognitive processing. However, they did not differ from neurotypical children in their gait velocity or kinematics, indicating they mechanically alter their gait velocity, similarly to their neurotypical peers. Children with autism did not demonstrate correlations between cognitive processes and gait variables, which may indicate that children with autism are not using cognitive processes while changing their walking speed. The findings from this study may prove beneficial, as altering gait speed is a typical task children with autism use in their daily lives.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

80 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Alyssa Olivas