Western University of Health Sciences is conducting an interprofessional study to explore walking, balance and visual skills in children ages 7-11. The purpose of the study is to identify specific walking and balance characteristics and visual skills in children with autism and/or sensory issues, as well as children who are developing typically.

If you and your child would like to participate in this study, please contact LaToya Johnson at 909-730-3472 from noon to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday or email lmccary7601@icloud.com.

Faculty from the Department of Physical Therapy Education in the College of Allied Health Professions (CAHP), the College of Podiatric Medicine, and the College of Optometry are conducting the study.

The goal is to sign up 150 children. Each child and parent will come for a one-time visit of about 90 minutes at The Village@Indian Hill, Building 3, Suite 18, 1450 E. Holt Ave., Pomona, Calif.

“We have been doing research in pediatrics looking at children’s functional skills,” said Donna Redman-Bentley, PT, PhD, CAHP Associate Dean for Research. “We found there were some differences in the development of children in their skill levels between typically developing children and children who have sensory issues.”

Much of the research on children with autism has focused on behavior and social skills.

“We wanted to look at how these children differ in more functional skills such as walking and their balance and vision,” Redman-Bentley said.

Parents will provide information about their child’s tolerance to sensory stimuli — how they take in sensory information from the environment in their daily lives while doing what they do every day, said Department of Physical Therapy Associate Professor Dayle Armstrong, PT, MS, DPT. The children will be given visual skills tests and will receive a gait analysis and balance test.

“It helps us to identify if they have a balance problem and what’s causing the balance problem, whether it’s due to their vision or due to their other sensations,” Redman-Bentley said.

The study will primarily draw from Pomona Unified School District students. Parents are invited to call LaToya Johnson at 909-730-3472 to find out more about the study and to participate in an information session.

“We want to develop a model that shows that walking, balance and vision skills can be used to identify children with sensory difficulties,” Redman-Bentley said. “Just by looking at these specific characteristics, this child may need to go for further testing. They may need an intervention to work on their balance or work on their walking skills. They may need visual therapy.”