Children with autism can face challenges when it comes to their physical development. For example, some children on the autism spectrum experience difficulties such as developmental delays, low muscle tone, and trouble with gross motor coordination. Physical therapy helps children improve these physical movements and decrease falls with special exercises, handling techniques, and building strength through play. Working with a physical therapist can help your child improve the many skills required for daily life. Here are some ways children with autism can benefit from physical therapy.
Improves Motor Skills
Some children with autism often have difficulty with coordination due to low muscle tone. Balance can also be a problem, making it difficult to ride a bike or climb on the playground. Physical therapists help young children with autism develop their basic motor skills, such as standing, sitting, and running. Play therapy, dancing, and swimming are some of the best treatments for children.
Develops Imitation Skills
When children are young, they often imitate the behavior of the people around them. These skills are crucial to a child’s development because they help children socialize and learn to speak. Often, children with autism have difficulty developing imitation skills on their own. Physical therapy works to hone those skills by teaching kids to model behavior. For example, playing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with your child is a great way to teach them how to mimic movements.
Encourages Large Movements
During therapeutic play, physical therapists work with children to encourage large quality movements. For instance, it’s common for children with autism to walk on their toes. To support proper walking, physical therapy increases ankle mobility and calf flexibility. Children with autism sometimes have trouble holding their trunks upright, which can be improved with postural exercises.
Develop Social Skills
Physical therapy does more than improve physical development, and it also helps to improve children’s social skills as well. Studies show that children with good gross motor skills are better at socialization and communication than those with physical delays. Focusing on these physical therapy delays gives children more confidence to navigate social situations. The role of a physical therapist is to help improve a child’s ability to handle challenges. This can include navigating the school cafeteria, getting on and off the bus, and participating during class. Your child’s therapist will also help them improve skills like self-control, listening, and taking turns.
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 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, and Pinterest.