Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder affecting approximately 1 in 100 children, most commonly in boys. ASD has replaced the previous terms “Autistic Disorder”, “Asperger’s Disorder” and “Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified”. It’s marked by social communication difficulties and restricted or repetitive behaviours or interests.

Parents often worry that there won’t be any improvement in their child’s abilities. This is not true. Dependent on a child’s needs, a strong, multidisciplinary team can typically help your child gain a greater level of independence and functional ability.

Common challenges:

  • Rare use of language to communicate

  • Unresponsive when spoken to

  • Not mimicking or understanding gestures

  • Decreased facial expressions for communication

  • Low interest in forming and maintaining relationships

  • Not engaging in imaginative play

  • Narrow and intense interests

  • Intense need for routine

  • Difficulty with task transitions

  • Sensory sensitivities

  • Repeating activities

  • Movement impairments (e.g. low tone, poor co-ordination, toe walking)

The role of the paediatric neurological physiotherapist in ASD:

Neurological physiotherapy can help address many physical aspects of ASD. A tailored neurological rehabilitation program designed by paediatric neurological physiotherapists can assist your child in working on their coordination, gross motor movements and motor planning. There is also some evidence supporting physiotherapy for helping calm a child with ASD. Paediatric neurological physiotherapists are physiotherapists with additional training and expertise in treating problems related to neurodevelopment. Paediatric neurological physiotherapists can work in a transdisciplinary manner to not only improve physical function, but also integrate behaviour management and reinforce positive language and socialisation skills. ASD is best managed with a multi-disciplinary team approach. We can assist you in building an optimal team of health professionals.

What our skilled therapists can offer:

  • Take a family-centered approach that is goal-focused and targeted

  • Adopt a flexible communication manner to best match the child’s behavioural responses

  • Adopt a flexible communication manner to best match the child’s behavioural responses

  • Design of a personalised neurological rehabilitation program that is holistic and considers the 24 hour routine

  • Provide hands-on treatment (when appropriate and tolerated) to teach your child how to move better or more efficiently

  • Provide advice on motor and visuospatial skill development and take home programs to develop them further

  • Liaise with your child's network (e.g. kindergarten, school, other therapists) as appropriate

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