A physiotherapist can be considered as the heart of an innovative educational approach whereby the therapist can help to maximise the potential of children with profound and multiple learning difficulties.
Physiotherapy can help your child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Global Developmental delay (GDD), cerebral palsy, genetic disorders acquired physical dissabilities. Our therapist can assist your child discover his or her gross motor skills, such as sitting, crawling, standing, walking, kicking a ball, and jumping.
Physiotherapy is often the first step in helping kids with cerebral palsy. It can help improve motor skills and can prevent movement problems from getting worse over time. Children with milder cases of CP may only require some physiotherapy to treat their condition.
Our physiotherapist is here to help your child who may have difficulty with functional movement, poor balance, and challenges moving through their environment successfully.
After an assessment, the physiotherapist will design and implement a program that will help to improve the individual child’s areas of need and increase overall function and participation.
Role of Physiotherapist in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Many of us wondering how does an autistic child benefit from physiotherapy. Physiotherapy helps with the development, rehabilitation and improvement of movement skills and performance. Recent research has stated that many children with autism also struggle with gross motor skills, low tone, gait abnormalities and motor planning.
1. Gross motor skills
Defined as large movements using the arms, legs, torso and feet. Other reasons that children with autism may be delayed in their gross motor skills include decreased attention or play skills and tactile sensitivities.
Physiotherapist works on gross motor skills such as rolling, sitting, standing, walking and running as well as improvement in flexibility, strength and endurance. Physiotherapist help the child to learn effective movement patterns, improve balance and coordination through functional play.
2. Low tone
Tone is described as the amount of tension in muscles at rest. Children with autism often have tone that is lower than average. A child who has low tone can result in
– balance concerns
– poor body awareness
– requires more effort for simple tasks
Physiotherapist works on strengthening exercise, maintains a good posture and exercises such as climbing, jumping and any exercises that keeps the body and muscles engaged.
3. Gait abnormalities
Many children with autism are prone to walking abnormalities, the most common being toe walking. This defined as walking up on the toes with no true heel contact with the floor. Toe walking can cause
– Decreased endurance
– Decreased balance
– Altered biomechanics
– Tight calf muscles
– Weakness in the front of leg muscles
Physiotherapist can help to stretch the shortened muscles or strengthen weak muscles while working on overall biomechanics.
4. Motor planning
Motor planning is the term used to describe the brains capacity to understand a motor action, figure out how to do it, involve the correct muscles or body parts and execute the activity.
Physiotherapist help to improve with specific training and goal setting with both the parent and the child.
Physiotherapy is often used in conjunction with other therapies such as occupational therapy, speech language therapy and behavior therapy.
A few examples:
If a child is learning how to write and is slouching at the table, it can be a sign of poor core strength. A physiotherapist can help with the core strength while occupational therapist teaches writing.
A child who has difficulty in holding a pencil in a proper grip due to weakness of hand muscles and poor gripping strength. A physiotherapist focus on strengthening exercises for hand muscles while occupational therapist teaches the child to hold the pencil in a proper grip.
A moderate autistic child demonstrates tip toe walking whenever the child has difficulty in regulate the emotions causes the child to have muscle tightness at the calf region due to frequent tip toe walking.
Physiotherapist works on stretching exercise to improve muscle flexibility and occupational therapist works on sensory integration activities to help regulate the child emotions. Even the behaviour therapist plays role in controlling the behaviour/emotions.
physiotherapist has to be very creative to design fun motor skill activities
that speak to the child and incorporate therapy goals. A child’s way of bonding
and learning is through play. As a physiotherapist working with kids lots of
toys and creative ideas makes the therapy work. It takes patience and a
creative mind to help the kids reach their full potential.
Kavita Nalla Thamby
Senior physiotherapist at The Play project Mahavidya.
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