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Physical Therapy

ASD - ABA Therapy - AG Behavioral Services - Edgewater, NJ - PT

Communication and social skill deficits are often highlighted as key indicators of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but recent research and developments point to motor development and control issues as central aspects in children with ASD.

Children with autism exhibit a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Many experience delays in acquiring fundamental skills, notably in motor development. Children with ASD also tend to participate less in physical activities compared to their typically developing peers. Studies on children with high-functioning autism (HFA) reveal a significant difference in physical activity engagement, such as team sports, bicycling, and hiking, compared to other children. This is particularly noteworthy given the higher obesity rates and poorer fitness levels in children with HFA, underscoring the critical role of physical activity for health.

Motor skills in children with ASD are diverse, yet some common traits include hypotonia (low muscle tone), developmental dyspraxia (difficulty in planning and coordinating movements), repetitive stereotypic movements, oral-motor issues, clumsiness, decreased hand-eye coordination, balance challenges, and difficulty with fine motor tasks like finger-to-thumb opposition.

Motor skills, encompassing coordination and mobility, are essential for children to explore their environment and engage in social interactions. Physical therapists, as specialists in movement, play a crucial role in enhancing these skills. They work to improve life quality through direct care, education, and prescribed movement activities.

For children with ASD, a physical therapist will conduct an initial evaluation as part of early intervention services. They are integral to the ASD therapy team, focusing on incorporating physical activity into the child’s daily routines.

This approach, supported by research such as Baranek’s study on the effectiveness of sensory and motor interventions for children with autism (J Autism Dev Disord. 2002;32(5):397-422), emphasizes the importance of addressing motor skill development in children with ASD.

What does the CDC say about Autism?

The CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Click the boxes below to learn what the CDC says about ASD.

Identifying Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be challenging as it lacks a definitive medical test, such as a blood test, for diagnosis. Instead, physicians assess the child’s developmental and behavioral patterns to determine the presence of ASD.

ASD can potentially be identified as early as 18 months. By the age of 2, a diagnosis made by a skilled professional is generally regarded as highly dependable. Yet, a definitive diagnosis often comes much later for many children. This postponement in diagnosis can result in a delay in receiving early intervention, which is crucial for children with ASD.

At present, there is no known cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, studies indicate that early intervention treatments can significantly enhance a child’s developmental progress. These early intervention services are aimed at children from birth to 3 years of age (36 months), focusing on developing vital skills. They may encompass therapies to assist the child in developing speech, mobility, and social interaction capabilities. Consequently, if you suspect your child might have ASD or any developmental issues, it is crucial to consult with your child’s healthcare provider promptly.

Children who have not been formally diagnosed with ASD might still be eligible for early intervention treatments. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children younger than 3 years (36 months) who are potentially at risk of developmental delays can qualify for these services. These are available through an early intervention system in each state, where you can request an evaluation for your child.

Furthermore, specific symptom treatments, like speech therapy for language delays, often do not require a formal ASD diagnosis before beginning.

The full range of causes for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) remains unknown, but it is believed to arise from multiple sources, leading to various types of ASD. A combination of factors, including environmental, biological, and genetic influences, may increase a child’s likelihood of developing ASD.

It is widely accepted among experts that genetics play a key role as a risk factor in the development of ASD. The risk is higher for children who have a sibling diagnosed with ASD. Additionally, individuals with specific genetic or chromosomal disorders, like fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis, are more prone to developing ASD.

Certain medications prescribed during pregnancy, namely valproic acid and thalidomide, have been associated with a heightened risk of ASD. Research suggests that the critical window for the development of ASD is around the time before, during, and immediately after birth. Furthermore, children of older parents face an increased risk of ASD.

ASD remains a critical issue in public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with families impacted by ASD, are dedicated to uncovering the causes of this disorder. Gaining a deeper understanding of what predisposes an individual to ASD is crucial. To this end, the CDC is conducting one of the most extensive studies in the U.S., named the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED). This study investigates various potential risk factors for ASD, encompassing genetic, environmental, pregnancy-related, and behavioral factors.

ASD affects individuals across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, it is observed to be approximately four times more prevalent in boys than in girls.

For more than ten years, the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has been tracking the prevalence of ASD among children in the United States. This monitoring has provided substantial insights into the number of U.S. children affected by ASD. Continuously employing these tracking methods over time is vital to understand the evolving trends and learn more about the nature of the disorder.


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