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What is Physiotherapy?

Socialization is essentially the process of teaching a human being how to live in a world with other human beings. It starts at birth withholding, eye contact, babbling & speech and continues for the rest of our lives. Whether we’re hanging out with friends, going to school, working, playing, reading or watching TV, playing sports, singing, eating. We are experiencing some aspect of socialization.

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.

A number of motor, sensory and musculoskeletal issues may be underlying the motor difficulties experienced by a child with ASDor ADHD  might benefit from the help of a paediatric physiotherapist aiming to maximize their functional ability and develop motor skills to minimise 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

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 programmes, hydrotherapy, range of movement exercises, advice, techniques and strategies.

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 maximise the individual’s physical ability to their highest potential across their school, home and educational settings.