Orly Neiger – MAPT, Developmental Physical Therapy, Facilitator and parent coach. Autism Research and Therapy Association / Clinical counselor for physiotherapists working with children ASD / Private clinic.

 

Caroline Barmatz MHA.BPT.HT, Director of Hydrotherapy, Sheba Medical Center, Senior Lecture hydrotherapy, Author of scientific publications, research articles and book chapters. Expert in therapeutic pool design, Israel representative of European Academy of Health Research. Member of the Global Expert Committee for hydrotherapy guidelines.

 

For over 100 years, water has been used for rehabilitative purposes (Irion, 1997) including the Pediatrics field.


The primary emphasis of aquatic therapy for children with ASD has been on improving physical function (Dulcy, 1983; Martin, 1983), besides, psychological benefits, such as a sense of accomplishment, greater confidence, and improved self-esteem, (Martin, 1983; Peganoff, 1984).


Children diagnosed with the Autistic Spectrum Disorder show difficulties based on sensory-motor regulation (Sensory based motor disorder Miller 2006), Includes:

  1. Engaging in movement unintentionally such as stereotyped movements.

  2. Clumsiness - because the movements are done ineffectively

  3. Deficit in deep body sensation (proprioceptive sensation that contributes to internal and unconscious awareness of body posture) and consequently difficulties in perceptual-motor development.

  4. Difficulties in an equilibrium system and heightened fear that will prevent the use and enjoyment (propulsion) of amusement facilities.

  5. Difficulty in disengaging from land resulting in deprivation or difficulty in spatial expression that each child experiences.      

  6. Difficulty in Postural Control maintain the intention of challenge the body during moving or rest, in order to fulfil a demand or task like adapted the muscle tension because of proprioceptive and equilibrium deficit.

  7. Impairment at work versus resistance (Co Contraction).

Those difficulties – some or all of them will cause difficulties in developmental delay.

Due to this, Pediatric Aquatic Therapists have recognized the potential for treating children with autism in the water environment as an adjunct to all those autistic's characteristics. The consistent temperature, buoyancy, relative density, viscosity, and resistance of the water provide relatively constant somatosensory input. In addition, the water provides an even pressure to the entire body (Becker, 1997). The influence of hydrotherapy treatment can run from improvements in multiple body functions to improved participation in various life situations (World Health Organization, 2001). It is possible that aquatic physical therapists will perceive the benefits differently from any other therapists because of the knowledge how to use buoyancy in terms of sensory-based motor disorder.

When compared to individuals without ASD, children with ASD are more likely to have difficulty with balance, core stability, posture, and overall flexibility and fitness levels (Jansiewics et al., 2006). The use of aquatic therapy as a treatment intervention modality for the diagnosis on the autism spectrum is relatively new, but the benefits from studies are undeniable. A research study posted on a recreational therapy website stated that EXPLORING HYDROTHERAPY WITH AUTISM “actually soothes and calms the children, providing the necessary sensory input they crave” (Jake, 2003, para. 10).

 

Was supposed to be shown in:

Healthcare - Aqua Way in Beijing (China) from 8th to 10th May 2020.

Gaming in buoyancy may help children with autism to get out of the bubble

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