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How Does Occupational Therapy Help Kids with Autism?
The skills required to participate in everyday living activities fully are addressed and promoted by occupational therapy practitioners using a range of techniques. Occupational therapy services are frequently provided to kids with autism and sensory processing issues in order to help them develop the skills necessary to perform daily tasks including grooming, dressing, toileting, sustained attention, sensory regulation skills, writing, playing, and more.
With autism affecting one out of every forty children, it is critical to assess which treatments are most helpful in treating individuals with autism and their families. In this post, we will look at the abilities that an occupational therapist can help children with autism develop and answer the question, will my child benefit from OT?
WHICH SKILLS CAN AN OT HELP ADDRESS?
Occupational therapy practitioners have a background in anatomy and biology, human development, kinesiology (the study of movement), psychology, and client-centered care. Because of this, occupational therapists are in a unique position to offer holistic care or care that considers the needs of the complete person.
If your child is referred for OT services, they will first complete a comprehensive evaluation as a way to fully understand your child, your family, and your needs and goals. Once this is completed, your OT can assist your child and family with developing skills in many areas. Below is a listing and brief description of some of the most common areas addressed in occupational therapy for autism.
EMOTIONAL REGULATION SKILLS
The abilities required to successfully control and regulate emotions are referred to as emotion management skills. This can involve being able to recognize emotions in oneself and others, comprehending various emotions, and knowing when to seek out a practical coping mechanism.
Children with autism generally have difficulties in this area. Often, they have a tough time reading emotions and utilizing ways to manage intense emotions. An occupational therapist can help your child with all areas described above. They may use a variety of methods including deep breathing, mindfulness , games, video modeling, and direct, one-on-one practice.
Between 50 and 70 percent of kids with autism are thought to struggle with sensory processing. The capacity to take in and interpret the information occurring in our surroundings is known as sensory processing. For instance, children on the spectrum may react to touch or movement more strongly than typically developing children.
Children with autism frequently have sensory systems that are either hypo or hyper reactive, meaning that their bodies are taking in or processing minimal or excessive amounts of environmental stimuli. The youngster may experience anxiety and under/overstimulation as a result of this. Pediatric occupational therapists are well-versed in the sensory system and how sensory challenges can interfere with involvement in crucial activities including eating, sleeping, dressing, and bathing.
An occupational therapist (OT) can suggest changes to these activities, such as altering the child's bedroom to promote adequate sleep.
Your child can build their own ways to better control their sensory systems with the help of an OT. For instance, they might cooperate to comprehend physiological indicators and look for suitable coping mechanisms to employ when overstimulated.
Running, walking, and moving our limbs are examples of major activities that need gross motor abilities. Small hand movements like picking things up, writing, passing objects between the fingers, etc., are examples of fine motor abilities. Children with autism or sensory processing issues frequently exhibit some delay in gross motor, fine motor, or both. .
An occupational therapist will examine these areas during the assessment process and search for strategies to support your kid in gaining strength and body coordination so they can carry out their everyday activities.
FAMILY ROUTINES AND TIME MANAGEMENT
Structure, consistency, and routine are frequently the greatest for helping children with autism. In addition to having excellent visual skills, many autistic children also find visual aids to be useful.
An occupational therapist will attempt to comprehend your family's daily routines and the chores your child must perform in order to make transitions for your child easier.
An occupational therapist (OT) can work with you to create visual aids that will help your child with organization and time management. For your child's morning ritual, for instance, creating a visual assistance using words, drawings, or both might be helpful.
In order to complete each step of their daily ritual, other kids might require visual aids. They might need to see how to brush their teeth, take a shower, and put on clothes, for instance. An OT can assist in determining which items would be most effective because every child and family is different.
An occupational therapist could help your child and family with a variety of skill sets overall. Because every kid is different and has specific requirements, an occupational therapist will examine and work with your child and family using a tailored approach.
There is strong evidence that suggests OT can be an effective intervention for the areas described above.
For these reasons, an occupational therapist can be a helpful addition to your child’s treatment team and can work with your family to find ways to promote success in the home, school, and community settings.