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Crisis Services

ASERT does not offer crisis services through our Resource Center. If you or someone you love is experiencing mental health distress or thoughts of suicide please call or text 988 for support.

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Physical Therapy

A girl sitting on a medicine ball next to her physical therapist with her arms pointing out.

Photo via PhotoStockSecrets

Frequently asked questions


Physical therapy is a form of treatment that is used when individuals experience difficulty moving around and completing everyday tasks. Physical therapy can help people move better and make daily tasks and activities easier. For example, it can help with walking, going up stairs or getting in and out of bed.

What does a physical therapist do?

  • Examine the patient and discuss symptoms and daily activity
  • Develop and implement a treatment plan
  • Goals may include helping joints move better, increase flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination and/or balance
  • Use a variety of techniques such as stretching, core exercises, weight lifting and more

How does physical therapy help someone with autism?

Your child will be evaluated by a physical therapist to assess the areas of need identified. This can include:

  • Gross motor skills: Using large muscles for sitting, standing, walking, running, etc.
  • Balance/coordination skills: Using the brain, bones and muscles in a coordinated effort. For example, climbing stairs, jumping, etc.
  • Strengthening: Building muscle for support and endurance. For example, walking for a distance without becoming tired.
  • Functional mobility/motor planning: Moving through space, day to day, for independence and efficiency. For example, climb onto a swing and make it swing back and forth.

Following an evaluation and thorough history, a physical therapist can work with an individual to target areas in need of improvement. These often include:

  • Improvement in participation in daily routines at home, school, and in the community
  • Developing better motor coordination
  • Improving reciprocal play skills, such as throwing and catching a ball with another person
  • Developing motor imitation skills Developing a more stable posture

How do I find a physical therapist?

After I receive a prescription from my provider for Physical Therapy, I can:

  • Consult my child’s case manager or supports coordinator
  • Call a Special Needs Unit
  • Connect with other parents through a local support group
  • Use this resource on How to Find a Therapist for other ideas

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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.