When most people think of therapy, they think of mental health therapy. However, there is a type of therapy often overlooked but can be just as vital for children- occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is a type of therapy that helps children with physical, developmental, social, or emotional issues. This therapy can help children in many different areas and improve their quality of life.
One population that can benefit significantly from occupational therapy in children with autism. Autism is a neurological disorder that affects about 1 in 59 children in the United States today ( CDC, 2018). Many children with autism have difficulty with social skills, communication skills, and repetitive behaviors. They may also have Sensory Processing Disorder, which makes it hard for them to process the information they take through their senses. These difficulties can complete everyday tasks challenging and frustrating for children with autism and their families. However, occupational therapists can help!
How Can Occupational Therapists Help Children With Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, and behavior. ASD can present challenges for children in school and at home. However, occupational therapists can help children with ASD develop skills to succeed in these areas.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating ASD, as each child’s needs are unique. However, occupational therapists can use various techniques to help children with ASD improve their Social Skills, Communication Skills, and Sensory Processing.
Many kids with autism have difficulty interacting with others. They may not make eye contact, they may not understand personal space, or they may not know how to take turns in conversations. An occupational therapist can teach the child these skills through play and fun activities. The therapist can also help the child practice these skills in different settings such as school or the grocery store. By doing this, the child can learn how to interact with others in various situations.
An occupational therapist can also help kids with autism learn how to cope with sensory overload. Many kids with autism are sensitive to certain sounds, textures, lights, or smells. This can be very overwhelming for them. The therapist can help the child identify what is bothersome and find ways to cope with it. For example, the therapist might teach the child to use noise-canceling headphones or to take a break in a quiet room if the child feels overwhelmed.
The therapist can also help the family create a sensory-friendly environment at home. This means ensuring there are not too many stimuli in the background and that the child has a place to go if they need a break.
Many children with autism also have difficulty communicating. An occupational therapist can help a child develop communication skills by using picture boards or sign language. The therapist can also help the child practice communicating their needs to others, such as family members or teachers.
Some children with autism have difficulty understanding social cues. An occupational therapist can help a child interpret nonverbal communication, such as body language and facial expressions. The therapist can also teach the child how to engage in positive social interactions with others.
Some children with autism have difficulty regulating their emotions. An occupational therapist can help a child cope with strong emotions by teaching them relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. The therapist can also teach the child how to identify and express their feelings appropriately.
As mentioned before, many kids with autism also have Sensory Processing Disorders. This means they have trouble processing the information they take through their senses. For example, a child might not like certain textures or sounds because they feel overwhelming to them.
There are many different ways to help kids with autism deal with Sensory Processing Disorders. Some common treatments include occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
Occupational therapy can help kids with autism learn how to process information from their senses better. This might involve working on activities that support the child to become more aware of their surroundings or using specific tools to help them calm down and focus.
Sensory integration therapy is another standard treatment for kids with Sensory Processing Disorders. This therapy can help the child better respond to environmental stimuli. It might involve swinging, jumping on a trampoline, or using sensory-rich materials such as sand or water.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a therapy that effectively treats autism. ABA focuses on helping the child change their behavior to improve their functioning. This might involve working on specific skills such as communication or social interaction.
If you have a child with autism, don’t hesitate to try occupational therapy! It could be just what your family needs to help your child grow and improve their quality of life. Kids Aboard Therapy in Davie, FL, can help you start this journey. We are a team of passionate occupational therapists dedicated to helping children with autism and their families.
Occupational therapy can be a valuable treatment for children with autism. It can help them develop the skills they need to function in their everyday lives. Kids Aboard Therapy in Davie, FL, is a team of passionate occupational therapists dedicated to helping children with autism and their families. We offer a variety of services that can help your child improve their quality of life. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your family!