Children on the autism spectrum often experience developmental delays, low muscle tone, and trouble with gross motor skills. These issues can affect their daily functioning as well as their social and physical development. Fortunately, physical therapy can help children with autism by using interactive activities to engage sensory inputs to challenge and regulate their responses. Here are some excellent benefits of physical therapy for children on the autism spectrum.
Improves Gross Motor Skills, Balance, and Coordination
Children with autism often have trouble with coordination due to low muscle tone. It also affects their balance, making riding a bike or climbing on the playground a challenge. Physical therapy works to help young children develop basic motor skills, such as sitting, rolling, standing, and running. Swimming, dancing, and play therapy are some excellent therapies for kids.
Prevents Toe Walking and Improves Posture
It is common for children with autism to walk on their toes because of sensory sensitivities. To support proper walking, physical therapy works to increase ankle mobility and calf flexibility. In addition, children with autism sometimes have trouble holding their trunk upright due to weak core muscles, and this can be improved with postural exercises.
Boosts Social Skills
Even though physical therapy doesn’t directly affect social skills, it significantly impacts them. Studies have shown that children with good gross motor skills are better at socialization and communication than those with physical delays. By working on these impairments, children have more confidence in navigating social situations. Physical therapy aims to work on optimizing a child’s movement to promote play, and play is a highly social activity for children. To play catch with a friend, you need to be able to make eye contact with your peer and then catch the ball while having enough stability and balance to manipulate that ball and throw it accurately back.
Improves Mood and Behavior
When children engage in therapeutic exercises, they release endorphins that make them feel good, improve balance and coordination and boost overall health. These benefits lead to more good moods that make children more willing to communicate and play with their peers. Plus, tired children are less likely to act out; and sleep better!
Physical therapy exercises improve motor ability in kids with autism. With solid motor skills, kids can easily accomplish activities like running or climbing that require these skills. Physical therapy for autism improves strength and stamina, which can have a positive effect on their daily activities.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.