Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the collective term for a group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterised by persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction and by repetitive patterns of behaviour and restricted interests.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Diagnosis 

A reliable and valid diagnosis can be made at 2 years of age by an experienced clinician. The most common age of Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis in Australia is between 3 and 5 years, although parents usually suspect their child is not developing typically earlier than this. However, there is no one test available to diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms are classified into two categories: social communication and interaction and patterns of behaviour.

Autism

Social communication and interaction:

  • Poor eye contact and lack of facial expressions
  • Delayed speech or does not speak
  • Does not understand questions and directions
  • Gets aggressive or disruptive
  • Does not respond to his or her name
  • Repeats phrases or words
  • Resists cuddling and holding

Patterns of behaviour:

  • Repetitive movements like handshaking, spinning or rocking
  • Difficulty in body movement coordination
  • Sensitive to light, sound, or touch
  • Self – harming activities such as head-banging
  • Specific food preferences or food pattern

How can we help?

The treatment aims at preparing the child to manage his/her routine activities and improve social, communication and behavioural skills. Medications may be prescribed by physicians depending on the child’s needs to control extreme behaviours like hyperactivity or anxiety.

Autism Spectrum Disorder cannot be stopped or reversed; however, physiotherapy aims to manage symptoms and improve overall quality of life. Current guidelines by the National Autism Centre recommend multidisciplinary intervention. Gen Physio can accommodate this with our diverse range of allied health practitioners to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder improve behaviour, communication, social skills and other skills important for increasing participation (e.g. motor skills)

The role of our physiotherapists are to take care of children with ASD that have motor impairments – for instance; issues with respiratory control, poor coordination, poor posture and addressing misalignment in the musculoskeletal system including chest wall deformities as well as foot and ankle misalignment issues3.

Hydrotherapy is beneficial in the management of ASD symptoms. Warm water can reduce body weight by 90%, decreases the force of impact on the body, relaxes muscles and reduces spasticity, making water the ideal medium to rehabilitate the body3.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder often have poor motor performance. Early physiotherapy intervention is recommended to optimise motor development.  Physiotherapists can stimulate learning and help children compensate for motor disturbances2.

We have a wide variety of therapists that could benefit children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. A multidisciplinary team of allied health professionals is recommended to manage Autism Spectrum Disorder holistically. At Gen Physio, we have a friendly team of professionals that are dedicated to changing the lives of our clients. All our clinicians are mobile and come to your own home to conduct an examination. Give us a call on 1300 122 884 to book a consultation today. 


Written by Itisha – Final year student of Doctor of Physiotherapy from Bond University

References:

  1. Lang R, Koegel LK, Ashbaugh K, Regester A, Ence W, Smith W. Physical exercise and individuals with autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2010 Oct 1;4(4):565-76.
  2. Physiopedia 2020. Physiotherapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder Children with Motor Control Disabilities. Retrieved from Physiotherapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder Children With Motor Control Disabilities – Physiopedia (physio-pedia.com).
  3. Whitehouse AJO, Evans K, Eapen V, Wray J. A national guideline for the assessment and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders in Australia. Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism, Brisbane, 2018.
  4. Zechariah Jebakumar A. Physiotherapy Cures Autism: A Review. International Journal of Pharmacy & Therapeutics, 8(2), 2017, 76-79

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