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.