Caring For Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder Through Occupational Therapy

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) encompass a wide variety of behaviors, traits, and challenges. Children with ASD may need support in living life to the fullest, from engaging in play activities, to reaching physical and fine motor milestones. Occupational therapists specialize in providing intervention that supports the needs of children with ASD and other disorders in order to help them engage in life’s daily activities effectively.

Below are tips from the American Occupational Therapy Association on how to support your child in living life to the fullest!

Self-care activities:
Create routines for self-care activities, such as brushing teeth or getting dressed. If these activities are predictable, this will reduce the anxiety felt by your child. Use pictures, songs, and mimicking the activity to encourage your child to participate.

Occupational therapists can analyze how your child reacts to and carries out routine activities and suggest modifications to help them be more successful. They may also help your child develop physical, mental, and perceptual skills that will help them succeed at daily self-care tasks.

Playing with others:
Invite other children over for playdates to encourage social interaction. Hosting playdates allowing your child to be in a comfortable environment at home. This will also provide them the opportunity to control the amount of stimulation they receive. Use engaging, yet less stimulating activities, such as puzzles, instead of physical play or video games. This will help to mitigate the amount of sensory input they receive.

Occupational therapists can implement a treatment regiment designed to help your children transition more easily from one activity to another, follow social “rules” such as turn-taking and sharing. They can also support you in the process of helping your child develop new skills and build onto existing experiences.

Sensory experiences:
Children with ASD often experience difficulty tolerating unfamiliar sensory experiences, such as new sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures. As a parent, observe your child’s reactions to different sensory experiences and take note of what makes them uncomfortable, what calms them down, and what they like. This information can help other caregivers or teachers support a comfortable environment for your child.

Occupational therapists can identify what sensory limitations exist for your child and can design ways to ensure the most supportive environment possible. When things don’t go according to plan, an OT can also teach your child strategies for how to cope with changes and surprises.

Raising a youngster with ASD can pose unique challenges to the already-challenging role of parenting. Collaborating with a licensed occupational therapist can help take some of the stress out of the daily hurdles and help your child, you, and your family live life to the fullest!