Physical Therapy Assessment and Treatment of the Child with Autism – June 5 & 6, 2018

Kerry Walsh, PT, MS & Elke Van Hooydonk, OTD, OTR/L
June 5 & 6, 2018 – Uniondale, NY

The purpose of this program is to promote competence in the PT examination, evaluation and treatment of individuals with Autism. Using the ICIHD model, and the current evidence base, the speaker will relate pathophysiology and medical diagnosis to impairments in the systems related to movement and motor function as identified by the guide to PT practice. The speakers will share early movement and behavioral markers of autism,  the research regarding the role of  early diagnosis and treatment, and the role of a multidisciplinary team in the diagnostic and treatment process. Treatments, which address systemic impairments toward functional goals, will be presented in videotape demonstration. The role of a family centered approach to goal setting and treatment planning will be emphasized.  Registration is limited.


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Product Description


Kerry Walsh, PT, MS, received her master’s degree in Physical Therapy from Springfield College in Springfield, MA. She has 21 years of pediatric experience with a concentration in the 0-3 yr population. Ms. Walsh has practiced in NICU, acute care, Early Intervention, outpatient, and long term care rehabilitation. She served as the outpatient physical therapy supervisor at a level 2 trauma center and on the Infant Toddler Assessment Program for high risk infant follow up. She is currently the owner and director of Capable Kids Pediatric Therapy Center, an outpatient clinic in Marlboro, New Jersey which services a large population of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In addition, Ms. Walsh works with a variety of infant clients at Hands On Physical Therapy in Toms River, NJ. Ms. Walsh is the co-author of STARS: Social Skills Training and Readiness Skills; A FUNctional Mutli-Sensory Group Approach to Enhancing Social Skills of Children with Autism and Other Special Needs. She is an active member of parent support groups for Autism/Sensory Processing Disorder and a volunteer coach for the Brick Stars Challenger Hockey team. In addition to her professional and community experience, Ms. Walsh has the privilege of being the mother of a son with Autism.

Elke Van Hooydonk, OTD, OTR/L, received her degree of doctor in occupational therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. She has 23 years of experience and 15 years of those are in pediatrics. Ms. van Hooydonk practiced in Belgium, Switzerland and in the USA in a variety of settings. After graduation with a bachelor degree in OT in Belgium she worked in an outpatient pediatric clinic and an adult facility for individuals with cognitive deficits, running the workshop program. In 1994 she moved to Switzerland, working in a rehabilitation center for patients with neurological, orthopedic and rheumatology diagnoses. Since 2001 Ms. van Hooydonk has gained experience working at Children’s Specialized Hospital, NJ. She is a senior OT treating clients with a variety of diagnoses, but has focused on the treatment of children with autism. She was an integral part developing the autism team evaluations at Children’s Specialized Hospital with the interdisciplinary team of neurodevelopmental pediatrician, speech therapist and psychologist. Ms. van Hooydonk was a treating therapist in a randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of treating children with autism within the Ayres Sensory Integration® (ASI) framework. This study was published in the Journal for Autism and Developmental Disorders in November 2013 as An Intervention for Sensory Difficulties in Children with Autism: A Randomized Trial; in which Ms. van Hooydonk was a coauthor. She was further a coauthor in an article published in AJOT for the Application of Data-Driven Decision Making Using Ayres Sensory Integration with a Child ® with Autism. As part of her completion of the doctoral program at TJU, Ms. van Hooydonk has completed the specialty Autism certificate. She presented at AOTA a case report from the RCT and a poster presentation outlining her and her colleagues’ contributions to improving the manual for treatment of children with autism in the ASI framework. Over the course of many years she has attended a plethora of courses to increase her therapeutic skills in the areas of Ayres Sensory Integration, Neurodevelopmental Treatment, auditory interventions.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will describe the pathophysiology and functional neural anatomy differences in individuals with autism
  2. Participants will identify the varied tools used in the medical diagnosis of autism
  3. Participants will identify the DSM criteria for a diagnosis of autism
  4. Participants will state the early red flags of autism and the clinical tools that can be used by PT’s to justify referral for comprehensive testing
  5. Participants will identify common impairments in the musculoskeletal, neuromotor, cardio-pulmonary, gastrointestinal and sensory perceptual systems in individuals with autism
  6. Participants will demonstrate the ability to identify pertinent functional disability in individuals with autism
  7. Participants will demonstrate the ability to formulate functional, measurable, family or patient driven goals for individuals with autism
  8. Participants will integrate evaluative findings and desired functional outcomes for the development of a comprehensive plan of care for individuals with autism
  9. Participants will describe collaborative treatment approaches of children with Autism
  10. Participants will identify opportunities for community based recreation and leisure for individuals with Autism

Early Registration: $410.00 (must be received 21 days prior to the course);
Regular Registration: $435.00 

Group Discount: A 10% discount will be given to each registrant when 3 or more registrations are received in the same online registration form or envelope.


The Long Island Marriott
101 James Doolittle Blvd
Uniondale, NY


8:00 am – 5:00 pm

8:00 am – 9:00 – Autism Definition


Autism Defined


Top 10 Research stories

Pathophysiology/ Brain changes

9:30 – 10:15 – Diagnosis

Tools-DSM V criteria, screening tools and rating scales

DSMV Criteria

Screening Tools

MCHAT-Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers

ASSQ-Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire

STAT-Screeing Tool for Autism in Two Year olds

Diagnostic Tests

ADOS-Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule

ADIR –Autism Diagnosis Interview Revised

CARS –Childhood Autism Rating Scale

GARS-Gilliam Autism Rating Scale

Early signs of Autism

10:15 – 10:30 – Break

10:30 – 11:15 – PT Examination-Standardized Tests

11:15 – 12:00pm – PT Examination of Impairments Affecting Movement in Individuals with

Sensory Perceptual System

12:00 – 1:00 – Lunch

1:00 – 2:15 – System Impairments Affecting Movement in Individuals with Autism

Musculoskeletal System
Neuromotor System

2:15 – 2:30 – Break

2:30 – 5:00 – System Impairments Affecting Movement in Individuals with Autism

Cardiopulmonary System

Gastrointestinal System

Day 2

8:30 am – 5:00 pm

8:30 am – 9:00 – Questions

9:00 – 9:30 – Evidence Based treatment

Treatment Approaches without Literature Support

9:30 – 10:15 – Goal Setting:

Setting functional, measurable goals in collaboration with families and individuals with autism

10:15 – 10:30 – Break

10:30 – 12:00 pm – Prioritizing and Sequencing Treatment for Optimal Outcomes

General Treatment Concepts

Neural Plasticity (slide 204-209)

Impairment Level Treatment  (including lab)

Prepare the sensory perceptual system

Musculoskeletal and Neuromotor Impairments

Mobility, strength and muscular endurance

Improving timing and coordination

Treatment of Cardio-pulmonary Impairments

12:00 – 1:00 – Lunch

1:00 – 2:30 – Cardio-pulmonary impairments (cont)

GI impairments

Lab-yoga elimination sequence

2:30 – 2:45 – Break

2:45 – 4:15 – Case Examples (slide210)

4:15 – 5:00 – Community Recreation and leisure opportunities-Focus on Fitness

Parent Perspective

Target Audience:

Physical Therapists & Assistants

Course Level:

This course is applicable to all levels.

Educational Credits:

14.5 contact hours. Certificates will be awarded.

Recognized by the NY State Education Department’s State Board for Physical Therapy as an approved provider of physical therapy and physical therapy assistant continuing education.   Approved for 14.5 contact hours.

Application has been made to the NJ Board of PT Examiners for CE credits.