Did You Know Pediatric Physical Therapy Could Help Enhance Skills in Children with Autism?

February 10th, 2021
Pediatric Physical Therapy

Help Your Child be the Best They can be With Physical Therapy!

Children on the autism spectrum face a range of challenges in school and daily life.

Working with a pediatric physical therapist can help your child with autism to develop many skills required for daily life.

Sometimes referred to as “occupational therapy,” this type of physical therapy focuses on sensory and neuromotor skills to help children become more functional and independent.

If you’d like to know more about how pediatric physical therapy can potentially help your child on the spectrum, stop by or give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Pediatric physical therapy, defined

A pediatric physical therapist will work with your child to help them learn, grow, play and enjoy life to the fullest.

On a “micro” level, occupational therapy will help your child to develop fine and gross motor tasks.

At the “macro” level, the goal is to help them transition into adulthood so they can live an independent life.

Sometimes therapy will just involve playful tasks such as jumping, dancing or climbing. At other times, it will focus on specific tasks like buttoning a shirt, feeding, holding a crayon or pencil correctly for writing, or getting dressed.

As the parent, you’ll be given helpful guidelines and tasks to work on with your child at home. Your role in your child’s therapy is obviously even more important than that of the physical therapist.

Helping your child find natural and safe treatment

The developmental needs of autistic children can vary widely, and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan.

Pediatric physical therapy is often just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to helping a child on the autism spectrum.

Depending on your child’s needs, they may also benefit from the following types of treatment in addition to physical therapy:

  • Sensory Integration Therapy: Many autistic children have difficulty processing sensory information (smells, touch, sight, sound, movement). This type of pediatric therapy involves working with a child on sensory stimulation to help them process incoming information at a neurological level.
  • Physical Therapy: Kids on the autism spectrum also have trouble with sitting, running, jumping, walking, and other gross motor tasks. A pediatric physical therapist will work with your child to help them improve muscle tone, balance, and other skills.
  • Speech-Language Therapy: Depending on your child’s speech skills, a speech therapist might work with them on conversational speech and vocabulary, nonverbal communication, sign language or other forms of communicating.
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): This form of treatment involves using pictures to develop simple connections and augment the child’s ability to communicate desires to others. For example, a nonverbal child might learn to point to a glass of water when they are thirsty.

How does pediatric physical therapy for autism work?

Physical therapy sessions will usually last only 20 to 30 minutes for younger children. As they get older, sessions can be extended up to an hour.

As stated by ChoosePT,

“Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have delays in the development of basic skills. These delays occur in specific areas. They may struggle to talk to and connect with others. They also may have limited and repeated behavior patterns. Often, there is a delay in forming motor (movement) skills.

Coordination and posture control are areas where children with ASD may struggle. Copying the actions of others is also hard for them. Symptoms of ASD vary from mild to severe. ASD occurs in about 1 in every 59 births in the United States. It is about 4 times more likely to occur in boys than girls.

Physical therapists (PTs) are movement specialists. They are in a unique position to help children with ASD. PTs help children with ASD develop their gross motor skills and basic movement skills. These skills help children with ASD play games, sports, and take part in physical education with their peers. PT’s help children with ASD gain their full potential.”

Your therapist will work with you to develop strategies to help your child build important skills such as grooming (brushing teeth, combing hair, etc.), feeding (using utensils and napkins properly) and dressing independently, as well as improving social skills, fine motor skills, and visual perception skills.

Guided strategies that you can use at home and at your child’s school will also be provided. Strategies will be adjusted over time as your child learns new skills and is able to function more independently.

Ready to get your child started on a pediatric physical therapy treatment plan?

Sessions with a physical therapist at our facility are safe, friendly, and encouraging.

Pediatric physical therapy can help your child develop to their fullest potential.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment for an evaluation or begin therapy for your child on the autism spectrum, contact our office in Statesville, North Carolina today to get the process started.

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