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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a diagnosis that describes kids with significant social, communicative, and behavioral challenges. While the diagnosis is mostly associated with difficulty with communication, there are also common physical issues experienced by children with ASD.
Physiotherapy (physical therapy) is a healthcare profession that assesses, diagnoses, treats, and works to prevent disease and disability through physical means.
Some children with autism are not diagnosed until they are older, though retrospective studies have shown gross motor discrepancies in babies and toddlers who were later diagnosed to be on the spectrum. With so much treatment emphasis placed on their social and language impairments, physical limitations only become more amplified in these children as they age.

Some common signs shown by children with ASD for which a physiotherapist can help are:

  • Delayed achievement of gross motor milestones
  • Poor posture
  • Clumsiness or frequent falls
  • Toe walking
  • Difficulty with:
    • Throwing, catching, kicking or dribbling a ball
    • Jumping, hopping or skipping
    • Playing on a playground
    • Playing games or sports and keeping up with their peers
    • Participating in community recreational or sporting programs
    • Learning new physical skills
    • Sitting in a chair properly, or for very long without fidgeting
A number of motor, sensory and musculoskeletal issues may be underlying the motor difficulties experienced by a child with ASD like:
  • Low muscle tone
  • Motor planning difficulties
  • Poor core strength
  • Poor posture
  • Tight muscles and joints
  • Motor Apraxia
  • Motor stereotypes
  • Delayed achievement of or inefficient balance
After an assessment, the physical therapist will design and implement a program that will help to improve the individual child’s areas of need and increase overall function and participation.