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How Can Occupational Therapy Help Children with Autism?

Children with autism can benefit from occupational therapy, which can help them communicate, play, and relate to others better.

What is autism?

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder characterized by challenges with speech and social interaction as well as restricted or repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities (including sensory processing issues).

ADHD or intellectual & learning difficulties are a few other issues that can accompany autism.

Despite the fact that autism is a lifelong condition, professionals like occupational therapists can support persons with autism in learning new skills and modifying their surroundings to improve their day-to-day functioning at home, at school, and in the community.

Working with individuals on the autism spectrum is something occupational therapists are skilled at. They are specialized at evaluating the developmental skill levels of children with autism and recognizing the obstacles that prevent them from being self - reliant and participating in meaningful activities.

Therapists assess the child individually usually while working as a team to review areas including motor skills, sensory processing, emotional control, cognitive skills, and interactions with parents and other people to determine the level of support they require.

Following the assessment, an occupational therapist will create a customized program with objectives and suggestions for assisting clients in overcoming their difficulties. Goals may include developing social skills, writing abilities, the ability to dress oneself alone, and other self-care duties.

Therapists will assist the child, their parents or guardians, and their family in learning and improving these skills outside of therapy sessions, so they can learn to take part in activities of daily living.

The child's goals should be followed up on, reviewed, and modified as they develop.

What are the benefits of occupational therapy for children with autism?

A person's daily life can be greatly enhanced through occupational therapy. By encouraging play and interactions with others, improving school communication and learning, and reducing repetitive behavior, we hope to help children manage daily life better. By creating unique sensory strategies, we also discover ways to accommodate a child's sensory processing requirements.

The various types of practical, day-to-day abilities that can be improved by occupational therapy include:

  • Communication and social skills, such as taking turns, engaging in cooperative activities, and engaging socially

  • Sensory processing skills to decrease the impact of high sensitivities and seeking behaviors

  • Daily living skills such as personal care, and important activities of daily living, such as cooking, cleaning, & shopping

  • Cognitive functions such as problem solving, impulse control, memory and attention

  • Fine motor skills used for handwriting, buttoning, using utensils, and manipulating small, everyday objects

  • Gross motor skills such as balance, postural control, & coordination

  • Self help skills

Developing all of these abilities through occupational therapy can provide greater independence, self-assurance, and self-esteem.

Dr. Kawthar Hameed is an educational psychologist and a special educational specialist. She holds an Ed.D in both educational psychology and special education and has over 25 years experience working with children with disabilities.

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