Physical therapy may be an option for individuals with autism who need help developing motor skills, have low muscle tone, or have problems with physical systems such as breathing control. Older autistic children can also benefit from carefully constructed exercise programs, which may be led by a physical therapist.
As with other autism therapies, the goals of physical therapy will be determined on an individual basis with the input of parents, physicians, and other members of the autism treatment team. It is good to practice a patient and family-centered care, so the concerns and goals of the family and patient are incorporated into the treatment plan and expected outcomes.
Physical therapy can help someone with autism learn a variety of motor skills, from throwing, catching, and kicking a ball to jumping, hopping, and riding a bike, But there are other less playful physical therapies required by autistic children, such as:
Physical therapists also become involved with rehabilitation after injuries. Occasionally the diagnosis of autism is secondary, For instance, a patient might have had a leg fracture and be in a rehab hospital for physical therapy, but we have to take the diagnosis of autism into account when designing their plan of care and structuring their therapy sessions.
A lot of physical therapy can seem like structured activities. Teaching individuals with autism to be comfortable and competent in their bodies is an important and often enjoyable part of autism treatment.
Kenneth Mauck, MPT, MS , Manual Therapy Expert