Physical Therapy Case Study

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Video Summary

Kim Keane, a physical therapist, describes the physical and motor delays sometimes associated with ASD, and how physical therapy is used to address these delays. The principles of physical therapy are illustrated in one of Ms. Keane's sessions with Christian, a child with ASD. Understanding what Christian finds motivating and rewarding is an important element of her work with him.

"I need him (Christian) to learn how to go up and down stairs safely. How do I do this? The parents; they know what are his favorites. Oh, he likes the buzzing Woody doll. So I might put the buzzing Woody doll at the top of the stairs."
— Kim Keane

Early Warning Signs related to Physical Therapy Case Study

  • Not Meeting Milestones: Refusing to Walk Down Stairs

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    One of the possible warning signs for autism is not meeting developmental milestones, such as walking up and down stairs. Christian K, who is 2 years, 9 months old, will not walk down the stairs in his house, even with his mother's help. This avoidance demonstrates both Christian's delayed physical abilities and his lack of mastery motivation; that is, his desire to learn skills, become more independent and gain praise from his mother.

  • Difficulty in Sitting

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    Benjamin's difficulty sitting down is just one symptom associated with his physical or gross motor delays. Such delays often accompany autism spectrum disorders, but are by no means unique features of the disorder and can appear in children without autism.

  • Fine and Gross Motor Skills

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    Dr. Soorya gives a comprehensive overview of the typical milestones in fine and gross motor skills, including walking, gripping, coordination and posture.

Therapies related to Physical Therapy Case Study

  • Benjamin on Exercise Ball with Mom

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    Benjamin is enjoying and engaging in a social game. Benjamin makes eye contact, vocalizes and smiles to let his mother know that he likes the game. Many children with autism will not make these social overtures because they are either disinterested in such social games or attracted only to the physical sensations associated with them.

  • Benjamin On Exercise Ball with Therapist

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    A therapist works with Benjamin to strengthen his stomach muscles. Benjamin's displays typical eye contact: he scans the room while he plays, checks out his surroundings, looks at his brother, and periodically gazes joyfully at his therapist as he pulls himself upright.

  • Physical Therapy: Ball Pit, Slide, and Basketball

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    As part of a physical therapy session, Josiah, a young boy with ASD practices climbing, holding, moving and balancing as part of his play in a ball pit and general playroom. In addition to improving his gross motor skills, therapy teaches Josiah how to play and interact with toys in an appropraite manner, rather than simply wandering around the room or engaging in repetitive activities.

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