You are advised to work closely with your child’s physical therapist as well as the occupational therapist to learn about what to do at home. Normally, you would be advised to engage your child in all possible sports activities (swimming, foot ball, skating, cycling, etc) as they should be able participate optimally in all the activities which are appropriate and a must know for their age. You would need to involve them in helping you with daily chores at home as this would help them become independent and confident in managing their daily life.
Physical therapy can be started from birth, and the therapy differs based on the age of the child. It is also important to always consult a professionally trained and experienced therapist, so that the physical therapist will work with you as a parent to develop goals to help your child participate as fully as possible in daily routines at home, in the community, and at school. You can refer to our exhaustive database to see which good Physical Therapists are available near you.
The physical therapist will then develop a comprehensive plan to meet your child's needs. Since each child's challenges and goals are different, a physical therapist will design an individual program to meet the strengths and needs of your child. The therapist will work with you as a parent to monitor how your child progresses, and collect data to make sure that the treatment plan is leading to positive outcomes for your child.
Physical therapy has now being considered as an integral part of the early intervention program for the management of autism. Thus, apart from strengthening and balance training, a physical therapy intervention program provides a child with multiple benefits.
It has also been suggested that vigorous or strenuous exercise are associated with decreases in stereotypic (self-stimulatory) behaviors, hyperactivity, aggression, self-injury, and destructive behavior. It also improves child's awareness of their body posture and movements. As they face difficulties in communicating, it also helps teaching them ways of breathing control, and improve endurance.
Physical therapy additionally works to improve posture to improve fine motor, gross motor, and self-care activities, improve balance to improve movement control and attention and decrease impulsivity, lay down the foundations of gross motor skills to support participation in community and peer activities. It also has a calming and relaxing effect and improves academic responses.
Goals of physiotherapy for children with autism:
Improve posture to improve fine motor, gross motor, and self-care activities.
Improve balance to improve movement control and attention and decrease impulsivity.
Learn to perform the ideation and execution of any physical activity.
Maximize sensory processing and organization skills to put into controlled movement skills.
Lay down the foundations of gross motor skills to support participation in community and peer activities.
Calming and relaxing effect
Reduces self stimulatory behavior
Improve academic responses
Thus, a physical therapist devices a patient based physical therapy intervention program which includes:
Strengthening of weak muscles
Core muscle strengthening
Physical therapy is a treatment option for those children with autism spectrum disorder, that need help developing age-appropriate motor skills, have low muscle tone, or problems with physical systems such as breathing control, etc. Older children on the spectrum can also benefit from carefully constructed exercise programs, which may be led by a physical therapist.
Developmental Coordination Disorder, also known as dyspraxia, is a disorder causing difficulty in activities requiring coordination and movement. Movement coordination difficulties affect child’s participation and functioning of everyday life skills in education, play, work and employment. Children face difficulties with self-care, writing, typing, and riding a bike as well as other recreational activities.
In adulthood these difficulties might continue, such as difficulty in walking on different terrains or driving a car. This includes social and emotional difficulties as well as problems with time management, planning and personal organization, affecting their day to day functioning. Thus, it is important to identify these issues in children by parents as well as therapists.
These physical deficits are of major concern as they result in abnormal balance, clumsy functioning, early fatigue, walking abnormalities, lethargy, reduced running speed, difficulty in climbing on the climbing frame or hanging from monkey bars. Due to presence of certain sensory issues children often exhibit toe walking which can in turn affect their balance, cause tightness in their calves, weakness in leg muscles and, alter walking pattern. Many autistic children gain weight if they have an inactive lifestyle, and weight gain brings another set of problems.
The goals of physical therapy is determined after thorough examination and assessment, and is tailor-made to your child’s requirement, with inputs from you as parents, your physicians, and other members of your child’s autism treatment team.
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