Occupational Therapy and Autism

Occupational TherapyWhat are the Benefits Occupational Therapy for People with Autism?

People on the autism spectrum can benefit from occupational therapy, both at home and at school. The goal of an occupational therapist is to help people live independent lives.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) defines occupational therapy as a "skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. Occupational therapy assists people in developing the 'skills for the job of living' necessary for independent and satisfying lives". An independent and satisfying life is a great goal for anyone, including people with autism!

Usually, an occupational therapists is a part of a therapy team that includes parents, teachers, and other professionals. This team works together to come up with practical goals to help the person with autism. In terms of the occupational therapist, these goals often involve practical life skills such as dressing, tying shoes or holding a pencil. They also may include sensory integration goals, as well as social skills. The goal is to help children learn tasks that they should be able to do at their ages.

How Does an Occupational Therapy Help a Person with Autism?

Occupational therapy can help a person with autism in a variety of ways.

An occupational therapist may facilitate play groups that teach a child how to in interact and with others. Sometimes an occupational therapist will team up with a speech and language pathologist specializing in autism, creating structured play environments with lots of practice and growth in social interaction.

They may create specific “sensory diets” for children with autism to use at home and in the classroom to help with sensory integration disfunction.

Create calming strategies to help an autistic child when they are frustraited or over stimulated.

Teach the child with autism life skills such as toileting, dressing, feeding, washing hands, and as a person gets older this can include learning to cook, clean a home as well as vocational skills.

How can I find an Occupational Therapist to Help My Child with Autism?

Many occupational therapists work with public schools. Public law requires schools to provide occupational therapy to those who need it. Sometimes private insurance or Medicade will cover occupational therapy for kids with autism so definitely check your insurance.
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