Occupational therapy (OT) addresses a combination of cognitive, physical and motor skills. Its goals including helping a child gain age-appropriate independence and participate more fully in life. For a person with autism, occupational therapy often focuses on skills for appropriate play or leisure skills, learning and self-care skills. Therapy begins with a certified occupational therapist evaluating the child’s developmental level as well as related learning styles, social abilities, and environmental needs. Based on this evaluation, the therapist determines goals and selects strategies and tactics for enhancing key skills. For instance, goals may include independent dressing, feeding, grooming and use of the toilet, along with improved social, fine motor and visual perceptual skills. Typically, occupational therapy involves half-hour to one-hour sessions with a frequency determined by the child’s needs. In addition, the person with autism practices strategies and skills—with guidance—at home and in other settings including school.
Sensory Integration Therapy
Many children with autism have challenges in processing sensory information such as movement, touch, smell, sight and sound. Sensory integration (SI) therapy identifies such disruptions and uses a variety of techniques that improve how the brain interprets and integrates this information. Occupational therapy often includes sensory integration.
Our certified occupational therapists provide sensory integration therapy. They begin with an individual evaluation to determine a person’s sensitivities. From this information, the therapist plans an individualized program that matches sensory stimulation with physical movement to improve how the brain processes and organizes incoming information. As such, the therapy often includes equipment such as swings, trampolines and slides. Sensory integration therapy can allow a child with sensory integration difficulties to become more “available” for learning and social interactions. Family members and teachers often find that its techniques can help calm an affected child, reinforce positive behavior and help with transitions between activities.
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