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Pediatr Phys Ther. 2012 Spring;24(1):31-7. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e31823e06d1.

Autism spectrum disorder: an emerging opportunity for physical therapy.

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  • 1School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA.



A growing body of evidence from research on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) confirms a substantial sensory motor component to ASD. Yet, policy and practice lag behind in recognizing the potential contributions of physical therapists in research, practice, and education related to ASD. The objective of this commentary is to inform and encourage reflection and formal dialogue among pediatric physical therapists regarding the assumption of vital roles in research, education, and clinical practice in ASD.


Selected studies representative of the type of work being carried out with respect to motor aspects of ASD is presented with selected older literature for those unfamiliar with the range of information available.


Findings from research provide ample substantiation for physical therapists to join interdisciplinary efforts as researchers, scholars, educators, policy analysts, and advocates in ASD. Physical therapists have the potential and ability to play a much greater role in ASD.

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