If your child has autism, we know you want to make every beneficial form of therapy available to them. Autism is on the whole a developmental disability. This means that children with autism may experience delays in developing interpersonal skills, such as empathizing with others or communicating effectively for themselves. Less commonly discussed is how autism can impact motor development. Here are the basics of why your child may benefit from physical therapy.
How does autism affect motor development?
When it comes to catching the early signs of autism, most people place an emphasis on how it might manifest socially or psychologically. It is less common that motor development enters the conversation. Autism has the potential to impact a child’s motor development because it is a neurological condition that can manifest in unusual and unexpected ways. One study shows that individuals with autism could be up to a year behind their peers in the development of motor skills.
There are essentially two forms of motor skills that autism can impact. The first of these is known as ‘gross’ motor skills. This refers to the bigger picture of physical movement, such as the development of balance and awareness of the position of one’s body. In this category, you may find that your child has difficulties riding a bike or picking up the fundamentals of sports. The other category is ‘fine’ motor skills, which refers to the subtler actions we perform with our hands. A child whose fine motor skills are delayed may struggle with such activities as handwriting, or playing video games.
Can physical therapy help?
In this context, the role of physical therapy is to guide your child through therapeutic exercises catered to their particular needs. Trained physical therapists know that no two children are alike. They can work with you to set achievable benchmarks for your child, such as being able to ride a bike. Often, the physical therapy is not too far apart from recreational therapy. Some therapists may employ tools such as balls and hula hoops to assist in the therapy. All of this will help to develop your child’s functional mobility, as well as their spatial awareness and coordination.
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 (202) 561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or (301) 577-4333 (Lanham office). Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.