Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition caused by differences in the brain (Centre’s for Disease Control and Prevention). The Centre’s for Disease and Control reports over 75 million people live with Autism. The World Health Organisation reports that about 1 in 100 children will be living with ASD. As a physiotherapist this tells me there are many out there that could benefit from some support.

ASD is characterised by having some degree of difficulty with social interaction, developing relationships, communication as well as repetitive motor movements, hyper or hyposensitivity to things such as noise or lights and insistence on sameness i.e. routine. ASD can affect many aspects of life and can be detected early in childhood with the average age of diagnosis from 4-6 years old. Many with ASD can have other conditions such as epilepsy, depressions, anxiety, ADHD, difficulty with sleeping and intellectual impairment. (Lisa Truscott 2022).

Movement difficulties can occur in 35-87% of children with ASD (Bhat, Licari et al 2020). Changes such as differences in muscle tone (floppy or stiff), motor delays, decreased gross and fine motor skills, poor balance and postural control, incoordination, muscle weakness, hypermobility, and decreased endurance. These factors can lead to your child having difficulties in their day to day lives, keeping up at day-care, school or around the home with their siblings. Movement difficulties can be addressed through physiotherapy which can have a flow on effect with other aspects of life such as community involvement, decreased depressions and anxiety and increased self-confidence.

As a physiotherapist, there are many treatments we can offer which can be tailored to individual child’s needs and developmental milestones. As 34% of children will have difficulties in coordination and 19% of children “toe walk” (Lisa Truscott 2022), therapy will often include work on your child’s coordination, balance and strength.

Research supports children with ASD to participate in 45-60 minutes of therapy for 1-3 days per week. Therapy should be targeted to task orientated skills working towards the child’s and parent’s goals. Treatments following these recommendations have shown to have significant improvements to the child’s fine and gross motor skills, as well as coordination (Ceccarelli et al 2020). Further research showed that physical activity had a moderate change to behaviour, compliance, social engagement (Healy et al 2018). Team sports or group exercise can give your child the opportunity to not only participate in physical activity but also build their social skills, communication skills and their executive function (Odeh et al 2020 & Liang et al 2021).

As you can see the current research supports the implementation of physical activity for those children who have ASD. Paediatric physiotherapists specialise in creating therapy and exercise to help meet your child’s goals. We will use these evidence-based guidelines when creating your child’s programs, making us an integral part of your child’s support team. Bump Kids prides itself on developing meaningful and fun treatments for you and your child. Our facility has access to aerial hammocks, silks and lyra for those children who want to experience what life in a circus might be like as well as traditional approaches to therapy. Bump Kids is a registered NDIS provider so there is every reason to book an appointment with us today! We currently have same day appointments available and can also come to the home, so your child is in a familiar and safe environment. We look forward to hearing from your soon!

Until next time,

Courtney (Physiotherapist)