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  • Writer's pictureAmy Dougley

Physiotherapy and Autism

Physiotherapy has long been used to support clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Physiotherapy treatments and education for those with ASD is incredibly important as people with autism can encounter motor related difficulties during their developmental stages.


The basic principles of physiotherapy involve promoting ways to adapt to physical challenges, providing people centred care and emphasizing the abilities of the client, all of which apply to those with ASD.


What is Autism?

Autism is a complex neurological and developmental disability that typically appears in early

childhood. Physiotherapy can help to address some of the developmental concerns including issues with gross and fine motor skills.


The role of the physiotherapist in caring for a client with Autism

A physiotherapist would be able to address some of the following issues:

* Issues with respiratory control,

* Coordination problems,

* Addressing poor posture,

* Addressing any physical pain/dysfunction,

* Working on motor skills.


What do exercise based physiotherapy treatments look like?

Exercise-based treatments involve working on age-appropriate physical skills that can be applied in school, sports and everyday life. The physiotherapist can work on skills such as:

1. Skipping,

2. Hopping,

3. Throwing, kicking or catching a ball,

4. Clapping,

5. Jumping.


Promoting physical fitness for children with ASD

Studies have found that children with ASD and ADHD have a lower participation rate when it

comes to physical education. Many believe this can be attributed to motor impairments. About half of all individuals with ASD or ADHD are found to have Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). DCD is often referred to as dyspraxia and can cause people to move clumsily and have issues with their physical coordination. Whilst Physiotherapists cannot diagnose DCD, they can certainly work to improve coordination through physical fitness/rehabilitation. Working on these skills in a fun, safe and engaging environment can not only help the client feel more confident in their physical abilities, but can encourage a healthy lifestyle that incorporates exercise.


Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that the prevalence of ASD around the globe among children is on the rise,

which means it’s important than ever for health care practitioners to work together to provide

support that encompasses and addresses any physical, mental and emotional concerns;

recognizing that there are many areas where intervention is needed.

Whilst physiotherapy can’t completely alleviate symptoms of ASD, it can certainly be an effective modality to utilize in the care of someone with ASD.


At Pathways To Hope we believe in bringing together a team of Autism specialists to address these concerns and barriers. Our team works together to provide a specialized plan unique to each individual, our plans focus on each individual’s strengths and goals and we provide regular feedback as to the progress being made.


For more information about how physiotherapy can help, call us at 519.751.0728 or email

pathwaystohopebrant@gmail.com. Free consultations are available with all of the practitioners on our team.


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