For a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), participation in daily life activities may require extra support, depending on his or her age and level of independence. Autism may affect a child’s ability to meet developmental milestones, participate in play activities, make friends, and follow appropriate social behavior. When a child is diagnosed with autism, it affects the whole family, not just the child. Occupational therapy may be helpful in supporting the needs of the family to ensure a beneficial situation for everyone.
Occupational therapy can be a highly beneficial service for children with autism and their families. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), the domain of occupational therapy is to provide the following services:
Evaluate and Assess: the child’s skill level and needs through formal and informal methods, and to identify what areas of his or her life are affected by autism, to determine the best course of action to support the child.
Provide Intervention: in the form of therapy services that are specifically designed to target the child’s individual needs.
Support: the child’s family in their day-to-day functioning and in their ability to cope with the child’s diagnosis on an emotional level.
Modify or Adapt: elements of the child’s home, school, or social life in order to best meet their needs. This could include evaluating their desk placement in the classroom, or suggesting bedtime routine procedures to help them get the most out of their days.
Collaborate: with the child’s teachers, doctors and therapeutic service providers to ensure the most cohesive methods of treatment are being implemented.
These services are particularly important when supporting a child with autism spectrum disorder. Providing the child and their family a means of support, through therapeutic intervention, can change a family’s life! Pediatric occupational therapists frequently serve this community of children and developmental needs. The strong relationship between autism needs and occupational therapy practices makes for a great pair and a great success.