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How Physical Therapy Helps Children with Autism

Physical therapy isn’t just for a pulled muscle or lower back pain. Nowadays, it’s being used in a whole new context: for children with autism. While the connection may not be immediately clear, physical therapy is a rich area for improving autistic children’s motor skills, strength and balance. Besides delays in social and cognitive development, autistic children often show setbacks in physical development. These include typical childhood milestones such as walking, or even basic motor tasks such as brushing their teeth. As parents of autistic children know well, these physical differences can manifest as low muscle tone or a lack of coordination. These delays may also affect their child’s social and emotional wellbeing. While the needs of every autistic child are unique, a physical therapist can work to improve these key physical skills. Ideally, this physical therapy incorporates play and toys, so that the child enjoys attaining these new skills. With these new physical improvements, autistic children may also see secondary benefits that overlap with social skills, as well as increased independence and participation. What is physical therapy? Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who help improve patients’ ability to move and perform physical tasks. This therapy is highly customized to the individual, depending on their abilities and/or pain. It’s also recommended as preventive care so that the patient can avoid future physical problems. Why physical therapy for autistic children? Physical therapy has been routinely ignored in treating autism, especially in children. However, it may be an effective option for improving…

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