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Physiotherapy for Autistic Spectrum Disorder

The aim of Physiotherapy for individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorder is to maximise their functional ability and develop motor skills to minimise the risk of pain and postural problems.

Individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorder may appear clumsy and have difficulty with balance and coordination. Many with Autistic Spectrum Disorder may have Dyspraxia, which is characterised by difficulty in planning and performing smooth, coordinated movements.

During the initial assessment, Physiotherapists will observe the movements of the individual with Autistic Spectrum Disorder within different settings, including the home environment, school environment and during play. Standardised tests may also be used to help highlight any problem areas.

Intervention plans will be formulated with the child and their family to ensure that common goals are set to match the needs of all involved. Problem areas highlighted in the initial assessment will be targeted in the following treatment plans.

Physio intervention - balancestanding

SLT - group game - social skills

Often Physiotherapists will begin by targeting basic motor skills such as sitting, rolling and standing. They may also teach parents/carers techniques to help ensure their child builds muscle strength, coordination and skills. These techniques are normally provided in the form of play, as the child is more likely to participate.

When progressing these skills, Physiotherapists may then work on more sophisticated motor skills such as skipping, throwing, catching and running. These skills are important for not only the child's physical development but can also enhance social participation in sports and general play.

Some individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorder may experience problems with fine motor skills and hand function. These can include difficulty with handwriting, fine finger or hand movements and difficulty tolerating sensory input. Here, Physiotherapists would work closely with Occupational Therapists to provide strategies to adapt tasks and help to minimise the effect of these problems.

It is important for any fine motor skills, gross motor skills and physical problems to be highlighted so that early interventions can take place. These problems will not only lead to physical problems for the child but they can also have a negative impact on social participation and communicative skills.

To arrange an assessment with one of our physiotherapists please contact us by emailing

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