Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are conditions that describe children who behave in a certain way. The diagnosis may be made when the following are all present:
1. major delays or problems with communication
2. problems relating to other people and social interaction
3. unusual repetitive behaviours and limited play
Some children may be affected more severely in one or more areas. These symptoms usually emerge prior to the age of 3. Within Australia, 1.6 out of 100 children will be affected by ASD.
There is no clear cause of Autism. Twin studies point to genetics as one of the major risk factors. In fact, among siblings, if one child has ASD, then the other child has a 31% risk of developing the disorder. Other risk factors include children who are born prematurely (earlier than 37 weeks gestation), children born to older parents or children who were exposed to certain medications during gestation such as some cancer medications.
While social and communication impairments are considered the key criteria of ASDs, motor impairments can also be seen as a core deficit. In fact, studies have found individuals with ASD have significantly greater motor impairments compared to healthy control groups. Motor impairments amongst the ASD population can include reduced coordination of movements, gait and balance abnormalities, possible joint hypermobility and low tone, poor postural control, delays in achieving motor skills as well as poor motor planning.
Exercise has many benefits for children with ASD. These benefits are supported by research and include:
- Improvements in cardiorespiratory functioning
- Improvements in motor skill performance
- Increased muscular strength
- Reduction in body mass index
- Reduce maladaptive behaviours and stereotypic behaviours
- Increase on-task behaviours and academic responding (e.g., participating in instructional tasks, asking, and answering questions)
- Improve academic achievement and social skills
If you suspect that your child is having poor motor performance related to their Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, contact the clinic on 5334 1113 to make an appointment with our Physiotherapist (Emily Izard) who is trained in paediatric management. You can also book online via our website.
Physiotherapy is also available for approved NDIS participants over the age of 6 or participants with a self-managed fund under the age of 6.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and is used for educational purposes only. If you are having pain or health related complaints, please seek out a licensed healthcare professional.