In 2016, it is estimated that 1 in 45 children will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Children with ASD can experience delays in not only social skills, but basic life skills necessary to successfully participate in their day-to-day life. Early intervention helps set these children up to become successful adults, but also helps prevent pain from physical ailments in the future. This is where physical therapy comes in.
Areas Physical Therapy Address for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Gross Motor Skills – Sometimes children with ASD need help learning to use the large muscles for sitting, standing, walking, running, etc.
- Balance/Coordination Skills – Balance and coordination involves the brain, bones, and muscles in a coordinated effort for smooth movement which can be difficult for some children with ASD.
- Strengthening – Children with ASD can lack muscle tone (up to 51% can have hypotonia) so it’s necessary to help them build muscle for support and endurance.
- Functional Mobility/Motor Planning – This piece of the puzzle is necessary for children with ASD to become successful adults. It’s important to improve the skills needed to move through space, day to day, for children with ASD’s independence and efficiency.
How Physical Therapy Can Aid Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Treadmill: Used with older children, standing and walking on the surface of a treadmill with a slight incline to provide some resistance can help create proprioceptive and vestibular input needed for children with ASD.
- Adaptive & Trapeze Swings: More than just a playtime activity, swinging on a trapeze swing is beneficial for children with ASD because it helps them build core strength necessary to help them with coordination and balance while also increasing sensory integration.
- Stationary bicycle: Another useful tool for older children, a stationary bicycle will help build muscle tone and increase coordination in making large body movements (i.e. pedaling a bike).
- Balance Training: Kid’s diagnosed with ASD can have problems with balance and posture. Exercises such as walking on a balance beam, balancing on therapy balls can help develop the balance needed for day to day activities.
- Home Therapy Programs: Physical therapist’s can create and recommend activities for parents to do with their children to increase their skill level in coordination, balance and strength while keeping it fun for the family.
Physical therapists help kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder gain confidence in the skills they need to participate in their daily activities. Further, physical therapy sets them up to have the tools they’ll need in the future to navigate different environments and perform challenging tasks in the community as adults.
For more information about applications for physical therapy and occupational therapy tools check us out at http://www.ProHealthcareProducts.com.