Physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT) can both help neurodivergent children lead more independent lives. Many people get the two therapies confused because they are so similar. PT focuses on improving physical movement and balance. OT focuses on improving daily functional abilities such as brushing teeth or toileting. Both can help with sensory processing challenges. Both PT and OT are typically covered by insurance.
Your child may benefit from physical therapy if they experience any of the following:
Delayed balance and coordination skills, such as tripping or falling easily
Delayed gross motor skills, such as a delay in walking, jumping, or climbing stairs
Low levels of physical strength, such as decreased ability to interact with playground equipment, and delays in developing motor skills
Low levels of flexibility, such as tying a shoe or scratching the lower back
Avoiding any physical activity because they are sensitive to movement activities or fearful of heights
Difficulties with daily physical activities, such as bathing, dressing, and moving independently in the environment
If you are concerned with your child’s motor or mobility skills, speak with your pediatrician about getting a physical therapy evaluation.
Physical therapy focuses on improving movement, reducing pain, and increasing mobility. Physical therapists care for challenges with movement, posture, balance, and coordination. Differences or damage in the nervous system can affect a child’s physical skills which include rolling, sitting, crawling, and walking.
A licensed physical therapist uses exercises, movement techniques, and equipment to help people of all ages and needs. Many pediatric physical therapists specialize in helping children with autism and other developmental differences. Physical therapy is all about helping with sensory processing and getting a child to move and explore in their environment. There is also general physical therapy (also known as musculoskeletal or orthopedic physical therapy) that helps people recover from injuries through exercises and massage.
We’ll help you find the best care providers for autism, ADHD, learning
differences, anxiety and other developmental concerns.