Benefits of AutismFITT™
What are the benefits of physical therapy (PT) for children with autism?
Physical therapy offers a great deal of benefits for children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other children who are affected with down syndrome, CP, ADHD, and developmental or physical disabilities. For example, a child with ASD may have trouble walking, jumping, climbing stairs, throwing a ball, or riding a bike unlike their peers without ASD. The physical therapists at Addie’s AutismFITT Club can help children learn how to do these tasks in a fun, structured and supportive environment. Physical therapy can also help in other areas of autism, such as:
- Lack of muscle tone
- Impaired motor function
- Deficiencies in coordination
- Problems with respiratory control
- Misalignments in the musculoskeletal system
Additionally, physical therapists can create social fitness programs for children with ASD.
Addie’s AutismFITT Club offers Yoga for children. Learn more here.
What are the benefits of occupational therapy (OT) for children with autism?
The general goal of occupational therapy is to help a child with autism improve his or her quality of life at home, in school, and in the community. The occupational therapist helps introduce, maintain, and improve many skills so that children with autism can be as successful and as independent as possible.
Occupational Therapy can help foster:
- Daily living skills, such as dressing up, using the toilet, brushing teeth, brushing/combing hair, and other grooming skills
- Fine motor skills that are necessary for cutting with scissors or holding objects while handwriting
- Body awareness
- Visual skills for writing and reading
- Play, coping, self-help, problem solving, communication, and social skills
- Gross motor skills that is necessary for climbing stairs, riding a bike, and walking
- Sitting, having correct posture, and perceptual skills, this would be telling the difference between shapes, colors, and sizes
While working on these skills during OT, a child with autism might be able to:
- Learn how to self-regulate
- Develop relationships with peers and adults
- Express feelings in a more constructive and appropriate way
- Learn how to be able to focus on tasks
- Have the ability to delay gratification
- Play with peers, become more engaging
There are several benefits in addition to physical gains that are obtained. AutismFITT™ also targets a person with autism's ability to process language, imitation / modeling other person's movements as well as improved social interaction and following directions will be gained.
The physical gains include:
- Increased Motor Learning as deficits or difficulty with motor coordination is often a common thread among children with autism. Improving the communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain using bilateral exercises (e.g. walking, biking, jumping jacks, etc.) will alleviate some of the real world challenges with functional movements.
- Improved Balance and Coordination as again this area can be a challenge that can be mitigated using focused energy on specific balance and coordination exercises.
- Core or Trunk stability including posture, muscular inhibitions, and even self-confidence are all affected by one's core stability. The FITT Club program is designed to cater to the development of strength and coordination of proper core/trunk movement and stability.
- Weight control as a supplementary benefit of FITT Club exercise is reduced body fat for an overall healthier lifestyle.
- Increased self confidence and social interactions. While intangible, this is an important and highly necessary component for all. Success comes through the progression of exercises inside of Addie's AutismFITT Club™, but is usually silently realized by the client outside of the FITT Club in daily living.
- Increased personal vitality, attitude or outlook, and potential to see exercise as lifelong activity of interest or hobby. Personally realizing the benefits of exercise would be a great achievement for a child with autism and wonderful milestone for parents to observe.
What are the benefits of speech therapy for children who have autism?
- Speech therapy can improve overall communication. This makes it possible for people with autism to improve their ability to form relationships and function in day-to-day life.
- Specific goals of speech therapy include:
- The articulation of words
- To be able to communicate both verbally and nonverbally
- Comprehend verbal and nonverbal communication, understanding others' intentions in a range of settings
- How to initiate communication without prompting from others
- Know the appropriate time and place to communicate something; for example, when to say “Good afternoon"
- Develop conversational skills
- How to exchange ideas
- Communicate in ways to develop relationships
- Enjoy communicating, playing, and interacting with peers
- Learning how to self-regulation
When is the best time to begin speech therapy for children who have autism?
The earlier, the better. Autism is usually evident before age 3, and language delays can be recognized as early as 18 months of age. In some cases, autism can be identified in children as young as 10 to 12 months of age. It is very important to start speech therapy as early as possible, when it can have the greatest impact. Intensive, individualized treatment can help lessen the disabling isolation that may result from this social communication disability.
With early identification and intervention, two out of three preschoolers with autism improve communication skills and their grasp of spoken language. Research shows those who improve the most are often those who receive the most speech therapy.
To find a speech-language pathologist, go to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's web site at www.asha.org. There are other sources, so ask your pediatrician for suggestions.