What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental condition, present from early childhood, that is characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. It is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). People with ASD have delays and limitations in many areas. They may have low muscle tone, or have a tough time with coordinated muscle movement with activities like running, kicking, throwing, etc. These issues can hinder the smooth functioning of day-to-day tasks and ASD is almost certain to interfere with physical and neurological development.
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How can Physiotherapy help with Autism?
People with ASD often have physical symptoms that range from having difficulty with coordinated tasks to significantly lacking muscular strength. Physiotherapy can help children with ASD improve their basic motor skills like sitting, rolling, standing, and playing. They may also work with parents to show them techniques that can be used at home to help their child build strength and improve coordination.
For adults, physiotherapy may help in more advanced fine motor skills such as skipping, kicking, throwing, and catching. A physiotherapy session will assess the person’s overall motor function, identify difficulties, and provide an intervention to address the underlying difficulties. Strategies used as part of physiotherapy treatment can include:
- Specific exercises for building muscle strength and improving posture, endurance, motor skills, and balance.
- Recommendations to improve the person’s positioning, bracing, and taping skills.
- Feedback to improve body posture and range of motion.
- And complete support to participate in community-based physical activity programs.
Physiotherapists are trained specialists that deal with all the concerns related to Autism and can help teach a child or an adult to stretch shortened muscles or strengthen weaker ones. In some cases, a physiotherapy session can simply look like organized fun, and while it should be enjoyable, all of the exercises are geared towards functional improvement.