How Does Physical Therapy Help Children on the Autism Spectrum? Often children on the spectrum have low muscle tone, decreased body awareness, limited balance, decreased coordination, difficulty on playgrounds and/or difficulty learning new motor tasks. These challenges can impact on a child's play skills thereby interfering with a child's peer relationships, learning, sense of mastery of the environment and engagement in sports. A child not only derives much pleasure from play but also learns a tremendous amount from interacting with the environment.
Physical Therapists utilize their expertise and training in neurology, neuroanatomy, motor learning, orthopedics and pediatric development to assist a child with maximizing his / her motor performance. Pediatric Physical Therapists "play" with children to increase each child's strength, balance, coordination and awareness of the environment by providing individualized incremental motor challenges that require a child to perform with a little more skill each time. Children learn motor skills through therapeutic exploration that can be provided in their home, preschool, daycare center or in a therapy clinic. Often times when a child on the spectrum engages in motor challenges his / her goal directed behavior significantly improves so that learning not only occurs in "muscle memory" but this learning can have a great impact on his / her social / emotional development and peer relationships.