Therapists who evaluate the sensorimotor functions of autistic children have become increasingly interested in monitoring their responses to vestibular stimulation. In this study, the duration of the nystagmus reflex is visually monitored and then measured by means of a stop-watch. Each of 7 autistic subjects received 18 sessions (36 trials) of horizontal semicircular canal stimulation during a period of 25 days. In each trial a graduated acceleration in a hand-operated rotating chair preceded an abrupt stop, with a rapid deceleration from 180° / second to 0° / second. Although subject option (intentional response) imposes limitations on the data interpretation, inspection of the nystagmus functions over time suggests the following: substantial trial-to-trial variability; substantial subject-to-subject variability; greater scores following trials to the subjects’ left (the direction of the second trial in each session) than to the right (the direction of the first); and no evidence of consistent change for most subjects in nystagmus duration across the 36 trials. Implications for clinical evaluation of nystagmus are discussed.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.