Apart from being a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects the child’s behavioural, social, cognitive & communicative skills, Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder, also affects their motor development and function.
Often, children with autism do not get diagnosed at the right time. Studies have revealed that gross motor complications arise if a timely intervention is missed. A strategic, systemic rehabilitation is thus essential to enhance their language impairments, social challenges and physical limitations as they age.
Most children with Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have a weak muscle tone which could lead to poor balance, irregular gait, toe walking, running, sitting or jumping. These functional challenges need the immediate attention of a physical therapist.
The physical activities, conducted at neurorehabilitative clinics, are crafted around interactive exercises that pique the child’s interest and make it an enjoyable experience. The clinics have pits, climbing walls, swings, toys and other important amenities to create a child-friendly environment. A team of trained and experienced physical therapists helps these children with autism to maximize their physical abilities with extensive paediatric training that results in attaining the highest level of independence, improved motor function, limb coordination and balance, in a creative way.
These therapies which are tailor-made to each child’s requirement, by the physical therapists, help them gain confidence in the skills they need, to perform as responsible adults. Paediatric physical therapists often design treatment sessions to evoke better response in areas that the child lags in and in behavioural traits that hinder social participation.
The areas that a physical therapist addresses to help autistic children overcome their functional challenges are:
- Muscle Tone: For strengthening the muscles of the limbs to reduce fatigue, improved function, posture, etc.
- Gross Motor Function: To improve the muscles tone for standing, sitting, walking, running, etc.
- Fine Motor Functions: These exercises help improve writing, holding instruments, cutlery, improve hand-eye coordination, etc.
- Balance: Involved to enhance the brain and muscle coordination for climbing stairs, jumping, hopping, etc.
Physical therapy is thus essential to improve the gross and fine motor functioning, along with balance and coordination, by engaging all the five senses, i.e. sight, smell, sound, touch and taste, in children with ASD in order to improve their day to day functioning from early childhood.