Improving Your Autistic Child's Coordination And Posture Through Physical Therapy

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Improving Your Autistic Child's Coordination And Posture Through Physical Therapy

29 April 2016
, Blog

When most people think about autism, they typically only consider the condition's effects on thought processes and behaviors. But autism is also a physical disorder that can drastically impact your child's ability to move through and interact with the world. Pediatric physical therapy can help your autistic child refine his or her motor control while also becoming more spatially aware, possibly even lessening other symptoms in the process. 

Reducing Repetitive Stimming Behaviors

Vigorous aerobic exercise has been shown in studies to improve troubling behaviors in autistic participants, including self-stimulating, or stimming, and other stereotypic actions. If your child is constantly flapping, shifting or fidgeting, redirecting some of that excess energy may help him or her control those actions more successfully. The study in question, however, found that results were most pronounced when the child jogs instead of walks, meaning you may need to work on coordination and physical conditioning before this form of therapy is available to you and your child. 

Adjusting Your Child's Gait

One of the most obvious characteristics of autism to an outside observer is the strange gait that often accompanies this disorder. Young autistic children in particular have a frequent habit of walking on their tip-toes instead of on the flats of their feet. Although amusing in children, this can lead to a permanently impaired gait if allowed to continue. Recently, therapists have begun preferring vestibular therapy to work on this issue. Vestibular therapy seeks to improve your child's spatial positioning reasoning abilities through simple exercises like swinging back and forth on a swing. 

Correcting Posture

Another frequent concern for parents with an autistic child is posture. It appears that autistic individuals process their posture on a fundamentally different level than a neurotypical person, which often manifests through slouching and an averted gaze. The nature of this difference can make it very difficult and time-consuming to teach proper posture, particularly to younger children. But if your child's posture is further impairing his or her socialization or making it difficult for him or her to walk, there are effective therapies available to promote a more normal gait that draws less attention to your child while walking.  

Improving Fine Motor Function

Autism also impacts your child's fine motor control. If you notice your child dropping small objects frequently, that is likely the result of autism. Depending on the severity of your child's spectrum disorder, it may require physical therapy to help your child interact with the world on a meaningful level. Exercises that strengthen the small but crucial muscles in your child's hands, for example, can improve grip, while hand-eye coordination games teach your child about positional awareness. Your child will need to learn to live with the psychological effects of autism. But by beginning pediatric therapy from a young age, you can at least help him or her overcome the physical impairments of this disorder, making life that much easier in the long run. To find out more, speak with someone like ABC Pediatric Therapy.