Occupational Therapy (OT) is a health care service geared towards improving an individual’s ability to function in everyday life activities and occupations that provide meaning to the individual’s life. OT is crucial when an individual’s ability to participate in and/or perform these tasks (e.g., self-care, work, going to school, play, social interaction and living independently), is affected or compromised by illness, disease, disability or disorder. OT is directly applicable to an autistic individual’s life because it addresses areas that interfere with the child’s ability to function in important life tasks.
At ABA Toronto, our occupational therapists use a variety of theories and treatment approaches when providing services. Such approaches may include: developmental theories, learning theory, model of occupational performance, sensory integration, play theories and others. The choice of therapeutic methods depends upon the specific needs of the individual child and. Many occupational therapists choose to employ a combination of approaches to meet those specific needs.
What are the benefits of occupational therapy for autism?
The overall goal of occupational therapy is to help the person with autism improve his or her quality of life at home and in school. The therapist helps introduce, maintain, and improve skills so that people with autism can be as independent as possible.
These are some of the skills occupational therapy may foster:
- Daily living skills, such as toilet training, dressing, brushing teeth, and other grooming skills
- Fine motor skills required for holding objects while handwriting or cutting with scissors
- Gross motor skills used for walking, climbing stairs, or riding a bike
Sitting, posture, or perceptual skills, such as telling the differences between colors, shapes, and sizes
- Awareness of his or her body and its relation to others
- Visual skills for reading and writing
- Play, coping, self-help, problem solving, communication, and social skills
By working on these skills during occupational therapy, a child with autism may be able to:
- Develop peer and adult relationships
- Learn how to focus on tasks
- Learn how to delay gratification
- Express feelings in more appropriate ways
- Engage in play with peers
- Learn how to self-regulate