What is Pediatric Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy in pediatrics, often referred to as pediatric physical therapy, is a specialized branch of physical therapy that focuses on evaluating and treating children from infancy through adolescence. The primary goal of pediatric physiotherapy is to promote optimal physical development, improve functional mobility, and enhance the overall quality of life for young patients. It addresses a wide range of conditions and issues, such as developmental delays, congenital disorders, injuries, and neuromuscular or musculoskeletal problems. Pediatric physiotherapists use age-appropriate techniques, exercises, and interventions to help children reach their full physical potential and lead healthy, active lives. This field plays a crucial role in supporting children with disabilities or impairments, ensuring they can participate in everyday activities and reach important developmental milestones.
Many children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficits Hyperactivity Disorder experience difficulties with their motor skills and capabilities including problems with their coordination and may often appear physically clumsy in addition to the sensory, social-emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Children with ASD or ADHD may achieve early gross motor milestones such as sitting, crawling and independent walking as per expected time frame, but the quality of their movements may be immature or stereotypical when compared with their peers. These early motor skills provide the foundations for the development of later motor skills which require more refined and sophisticated movement control. As a result, children with ASD or ADHD may struggle to master higher level motor skills such as ball skills, skipping, riding a bike, balancing and hopping. These skills impact the child’s overall participation in peer and community activities, which subsequently will affect their overall development.
Physiotherapy for Autism
In a child with autism, it is important to ensure that the development delays in their behaviour, communication and social interactions have not offset an inability to use gross and fine motor skills. Autism treatment should include assessment and treatment of motor impairments. It is important that physiotherapists pay attention to the diagnosis of autism while creating structured treatment plans so that the children with autism can be taught to be comfortable with their bodies and competent in their activities. Including physiotherapy in autism treatments has helped in improving (and reducing the severity level of) weak muscle control in children with autism which in turn helps to reduce the injuries that they may suffer in the future and to build more confidence in doing things independently.
A number of motor, sensory and musculoskeletal issues may be underlying the motor difficulties experienced by a child with ASD or ADHD. They might benefit from the help of a pediatric physiotherapist aiming to maximize their functional ability and develop motor skills to minimize the risk of pain and postural problems. Problems may include:
- Delayed achievement of gross motor milestones
- Difficulty with:
- Throwing, catching, kicking or dribbling a ball
- Jumping, hopping or skipping
- Playing games or sports and keeping up with their peers
- Learning new physical skills
- Sitting in a chair properly, or for very long without fidgeting
- Poor posture
- Clumisness or frequent falls
- Toe walking
- Low muscle tone
- Motor planning difficulties
- Poor core strength
- Tight muscles and joints
- Delayed achievement of poor or inefficient balance reactions
Physiotherapy Treatment for Autism
A Pediatrics physiotherapist will assess the child’s overall motor functioning, identify the underlying difficulties, and provide an intervention program to help address or improve these difficulties and subsequently the child’s overall functioning.
There are a range of physiotherapy interventions which can be used to target the above areas, these include: Physical exercise programme, hydrotherapy, range of movement exercises, advice, techniques and strategies.
Physiotherapy Treatment at Jewel Autism Centre
Physiotherapy can be a key ingredient in the treatment of motor difficulties for children with ASD and ADHD .The physiotherapist will work closely with parents /carers and others involved in the individual care in ensuring the individual receives the best outcome from therapy. Physiotherapy aims to maximize the individual’s physical ability to their highest potential across their school, home and educational settings.
What kind of physical challenges do kids with autism deal with?
Children with autism and developmental conditions often face various physical challenges, including issues with motor skills development, coordination difficulties, sensory processing problems, and challenges with balance and posture. Also children with developmental issues mostly experience delays or challenges in their physical development. These may manifest in various ways, such as delayed motor milestones (like roll over, crawling, walking), difficulties with balance, coordination problems, and challenges in fine and gross motor skills.
Benefits of physiotherapy sessions for children with autism
Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in early intervention for these children, helping improve motor skills, coordination, and balance through tailored exercises and activities. Early intervention through physiotherapy can enhance their overall physical abilities and independence in everyday tasks.
Moreover, physiotherapy interventions are designed not just to address current developmental delays but also to prevent future complications that may arise due to these issues. By working on enhancing a child’s physical capabilities early on, physiotherapy aims to optimize their overall development and quality of life as they grow.
Motor Planning for Everyday Activities of physiotherapy
Motor planning is a key focus in physiotherapy which includes structuring activities that target everyday tasks. These may primarily include gross motor skills that focus on movements involving larger muscle groups like walking, jumping, or climbing stairs, aiding in coordination and balance.
Balance and Coordination Exercises in physiotherapy
Balance and coordination exercises are integral parts of physiotherapy sessions. These exercises aim to enhance a child’s stability, spatial awareness, and coordination skills, contributing to improved overall physical health. Exercises like standing on one foot, balancing on unstable surfaces, or navigating obstacle helps to improve stability and coordination.
Social Skills Through Physical Activities
Engaging in physical activities within therapy sessions helps children with autism develop social skills. Through group exercises and games, they learn cooperation, turn-taking, and interaction, fostering socialization in a structured environment.
Parental Involvement in physical Therapy
Parental involvement in physical therapy is highly beneficial. It allows parents to learn techniques and exercises to support their child’s progress at home, ensuring continuity, consistency and reinforcement of therapeutic efforts beyond the clinic or sessions.