Occupational Therapy (OT) benefits a child with autism by improving the quality of life for the individual through successful and meaningful experiences. OT involves the therapeutic use of work, self care, and play activities to increase independent function and enhance development.
Using purposeful, fun and age-appropriate activities, the occupational therapist assists children in achieving important life tasks.
A child needs OT when his or her ability to participate in and/or perform tasks (e.g. self-care, play, going to school, and social interaction) is affected or compromised by illness, disease, disability, or disorder. The therapy addresses the areas that interfere with the child’s ability to complete daily life tasks.
- Gross and fine motor skill development
- Eye hand coordination skills
- Self-care skills including: dressing, grooming, and eating
- Sensory processing as related to functional performance in everyday life. Therapy includes creating sensory diets and collaborating with behavioral therapists and families
- Engagement in meaningful activities with a variety of toys, games and tools with emphasis on interactive occupational skill acquisition
- Expanding food choices, on an individual basis, using concepts from the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) and food chaining approaches
Occupational therapists at Partners have received training in ABA and behavioral methods that are commonly used with children who have autism. This provides the opportunity to carry over ABA and behavioral approaches into occupational therapy sessions. In addition, occupational therapists are able to collaborate directly with ABA therapists throughout the day to provide on going coordination. With this team approach, the child is practicing and learning new skills in a variety of settings.
Occupational Therapists at Partners are using evidenced-based practice to select activities that are most appropriate to the child. Depending on his or her needs, your child may benefit from:
- A Sensory Diet based on sensory integration principles to be incorporated in their routine at Partners.
- Handwriting Without Tears. This program uses multi-sensory techniques and consistent habits for letter formation to teach beginning handwriting.
- Feeding/ Swallowing individualized programs designed to decrease oral sensitivities common to children with autism
Does My Child Need Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy facilitates and improves motor, sensory, and cognitive skills through meaningful activity. These programs help children who experience difficulty with:
- Performing self-care activities including dressing, buttoning a shirt and tying shoes.
- Tolerating specific textures or flavors of food/drink, mouths objects, and may become frustrated, or gag/vomit when new foods are introduced.
- Tolerating tactile input, including not wanting to participate in “messy” activities or becoming frustrated with textures of clothing, tags, seams or when physical contact is given. May avoid soap or lotion.
- Fine motor activities such as handwriting, cutting with scissors, clothing fasteners (buttons. Zippers, etc), or difficulty opening containers/jars
- Initiating or completing tasks such as doing a simple puzzle, stringing beads or playing on the slide or swing.
- Cognitive tasks such as following instructions or classroom rules, problem solving, sequencing, patterning or organization
- Attention and maintaining an optimal level of arousal throughout the day
- Balance, maneuvering on playground equipment, and lack of safety awareness
- Tolerating changes in every day routine.
- Self calming
- If your child exhibits any of these problems, he/she may benefit from Occupational Therapy.