Original Article By Eric Ries | July 2018
Synopsis/Review by Athena Bellio, PT, DPT, CMT, HHP for Oceanside Therapy Group
Physical therapy services have been a widely accepted form of treatment for decades across multiple populations. However, the role of a physical therapist (PT) in the lives of our children with Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has not always been emphasized or well-known. In fact, within the last two decades, treatment options for this population of children and families were not as readily available. But, as the treatment paradigm is constantly evolving to encompass the whole child, so is the importance and role of physical therapy in their daily lives.
In this article, written by Eric Ries, he presents the experiences of pediatric PTs working with this wonderful population and how they approached treating and caring for these kids.
Karen Tartick, a school-based PT and parent of a child with Autism, explains her take on the importance of physical therapy in the life of a child with Autism. She shares her own experience with her now adult son, and his limited experience with physical therapy treatment growing up. Tartick goes on to describe that when they first received her son Eric’s diagnosis in 1993, there was less of an emphasis placed on his physical activity during his therapeutic care. She attributes that limited exposure in his youth, in part, to the current challenges Eric faces with poor physical health and limited exercise tolerance. Tartick explains how “tapping into whatever is motivating to the child” is key to having them understand the importance of movement and exercise outside of the therapy world.
Physical therapist, Liliane Savard, also describes her experiences working with children with ASD, claiming that, “most if not all, children with autism have movement difficulty.” She goes on to explain that because PTs are considered movement system experts, they are very adept in figuring out how to design interventions to help these kids participate more in appropriate movement patterns that will allow them to engage in life. Savard emphasizes three main cornerstones to promoting motor learning including: positive expectancy, autonomy support and external focus. In short, if we help our kids to believe they can do something, allow them the freedom and opportunity to make appropriate decisions, and channel their attention and focus to specific elements of a task, we can achieve growth and progress.
The “whole-child approach” is also emphasized in today’s physical therapy treatments. Anjana Bhat, PT, PhD, MS, emphasizes this in her practice with the belief that motor play encourages communication and engagement in a child’s environment as well as with his or her peers. By providing creative play environments, there is, what Bhat calls a “cascading effect” in which PTs help to promote productive solutions and preferred outlets to dealing with maladaptive behaviors. Physical therapists not only treat a movement pattern dysfunction, but also take part in the larger discussion of advocating for children with ASD by enabling and empowering them to “participate in their world.” Bhat goes on to applaud the families and parents of these children, whose determination in empowering their child is inspiring to her as a PT working in this field. She goes on to describe the complexities of this diagnosis with the understanding that our knowledge of best practice for PT and ASD is constantly expanding.
Jan McElroy, PT, PhD, describes the role of a PT best. In a population that is so often misrepresented or “narrowly seen as minimally expressive, behaviorally difficult, and challenging to engage”, PTs bring the fun to these children and families whose lives can often feel stressful. PTs work to address the whole child, find what is salient to him or her and encourage social connections and movement patterns to gain confidence in their newfound independence.
For access to the full article, please see the attached link.
Our OTG family is made up of talented and creative therapists and staff, all working together to facilitate progress and life skills across all disciplines (occupational therapy, speech language therapy and physical therapy). Please contact our PT department for more information on how we can help you and your child reach their gross motor and functional movement goals.
Source: Ries, Eric. “Physical Therapy for People With Autism.” APTA, 2018, www.apta.org/PTinMotion/2018/7/Feature/Autism/.
Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ Mission Bay Park in San Diego
Event Schedule - Saturday, April 21, 2018
Here's how to register...
Click the link below to get to the ACT/Autism Walk website for registration
-Remember to choose the category: Adult 5K
-Select Create/Join Team - then click on Oceanside Therapy Group from the drop-down.
-Our password is: WalknRoll1
-We can't wait to see you there!
For some added fun...
Oceanside Therapy Group will be handing out team capes for the event. Please plan to wear your team cape for our group photo!
For questions and help registering...
Stop by the front desk for help on registration or for any questions or concerns you may have. There is additional informational also provided on the Race website, for more details click below.
Children can be difficult to shop for once hitting a certain age where they no longer show interest in all the toys and games that they once couldn't put down. Now that the holidays are around the corner, and relatives are inquiring about what to get your kids, you find yourself stumped. You're just not sure what will be worthwhile and keep your child's interest for more than a few days. What will keep their minds stimulated so that they are learning something AND having fun. What are the best educational gifts out there that promote learning in a fun way? Our therapists at Oceanside Therapy Group have given us their expertise when it comes to toys, games, and activities that are perfect to get your child for the holiday season.
Card & Picture Games
Zingo is a game of bingo works on picture identification, incorporates turn taking, and visual/matching skills. Card games are always good for fine motor and manipulation skills. Kids can work on shuffling, dealing the cards, counting, and holding the cards. A simple game of Uno is fun, but 2 other great games are Blink and Spot It. These games work on visual perceptual skills, matching, and sorting by color/shape/number, etc.)"
Board Games & Interactive Games
Cranium Hullabaloo - sold on Amazon and Ebay - Hullabaloo is great for auditory processing, visual-motor, and gross motor skills. Headbandz & Apples to Apples - These games help with social skills and turn taking. Mancala: It’s a strategy and cognitive processing game. Chinese Checkers is a great activity for fine motor skills, problem solving, and turn taking.
Other Resources for Toy Ideas
Written by Oceanside Therapy Group
The Fleet Science Center in San Diego, offers a special opportunity for children with autism and their families on the third Saturday of every month. Get early access to galleries 9-10AM. IMAX showing at 10AM w/ with the house lights on and a lower soundtrack volume.
"The Fleet Science Center strives to be an inclusive place where people of all needs and abilities are welcome and accommodated with respect every day. We believe science is for everyone!"
February 18 Special IMAX showing of Dolphins at 10 AM
March 18 Special IMAX showing of Dream Big at 10 AM
April 15 Special IMAX showing of Flight of the Butterflies at 10 AM
Visit their website for more information: http://www.rhfleet.org/
How is it Diagnosed?
If you think your child may have ASD, contact a physician with your concerns. Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step toward receiving needed intervention. The physician may refer your child to a specialist for an in-depth evaluation, including diagnosis. Specialists who typically diagnose ASD (or decide that an individual does not have ASD) include developmental pediatricians, child neurologists, child psychologists, and child psychiatrists.
No specific tests can diagnose ASD, but health care professionals may use assessment tools, such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd edition (ADOS-2), and the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) to aid in determining the diagnosis. A child's behavior and development must meet specific criteria to receive a diagnosis of ASD. Individuals diagnosed with ASD have symptoms that cause significant difficulty in important areas of current functioning. Individuals with ASD show symptoms from early childhood, even if those symptoms are not recognized until the child is older when social demands increase. Parents may recall earlier symptoms and realize that they didn’t know what those symptoms meant at that time.
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
Physical therapists can work with your child, family, and educational team to help your child:
A physical therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation of your child that will typically include a health and developmental history and assessment of:
"Autism Spectrum Disorder." American Physical Therapy Association. American Physical Therapy Association, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.