management of Autism

Why is OT important in the management of Autism

Why is OT important in the management of Autism

This blog is about Importance of OT in the management of Autism. But first let’s understand about Autism & role of OT.

Understanding Autism –

Autism or Autism spectrum disorder refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioural, & communicative abilities. Autistic children are slower in integrating sensory inputs, making their processing time much slower. Such challenges explain why children with Autism are often subject to meltdowns.

For autistic child, an occupational therapist works to develop skills for handwriting, fine motor skills & daily living skills. However, most essential role is also to assess & target the child’s sensory processing differences. OT’s implement unique strategies at home or in the classroom & effectively add the necessary filters that such children require.

Understanding importance of OT –

Occupational therapists help people all ages actively & purposefully engage in their daily living. They work with each individual to assess their needs & determine the best path to develop, modify, adapt or regain skills that are challenging because of their limitations.

They combine all their senses in order to make sense of our environment. However, some autistic children & young people may have difficulty filtering sensory information & it can become uncomfortable or overwhelming. The main role of an OT in Autism is to inculcate daily life skills which include day-to-day tasks such as grooming, self-care, leisure or work. They work to promote, maintain, & develop the skills needed to be functional in different settings.

An OT is trained to conduct complete analysis & promote activities to help the child interact with the immediate environment & learn skills to communicate & engage.

A typical OT program includes

  • An initial evaluation where the client, their family & the therapist identify the client’s goals.
  • A customized intervention plan to address the client’s needs & improve their ability to complete daily activities & reach their goals.
  • Ongoing evaluations to make sure the interventions are effective & goals are being achieved. Changes are made to the treatment plan, as required.
  • Session typically lasts from 30-60mins, scheduled regularly with frequency set depending on needs & goals of the individuals.
  • The ultimate goal is to be able to translate every learned skills in a variety of natural settings individual’s everyday life.

Occupational therapy @1SpecialPlace –

  • Includes diagnostic evaluation
  • Intensive treatment & intervenes to ask questions when necessary
  • Offers written goals for treatment
  • Listens to you & makes parent education an essential part of the treatment
  • Restores ability to perform daily tasks as independently as possible.
  • Provides child & family with the tools necessary to be successful in all environments
  • Create suitable environment to cut distractions and help a child improve higher executive functions
  • Assists the child with performance & attention
  • Purposeful sensory stimulation
  • Formulate child specific sensory diet to help body get required sensory inputs
  • Assess the child’s sensory processing differences and make the goal plan accordingly.

Importance of OT in Autism management

While ASD cannot be cured, symptoms can be reduced substantially, allowing individuals to live balanced, successful lives.

OT can help in following ways to improve quality of life of an autistic individual –

  • Improve overall well-being for people with autism by equipping them with the skills needed to live more independent and meaningful lives.
  • helps to provide a foundation for people with autism to develop their skills.
  • helps individuals with autism to perform better at home, school, play & work.
  • works to develop handwriting, fine motor skills & daily living skills.

Autistic individuals often struggle to integrate the information that comes in through their senses, which makes them take longer to process information. Children with autism can become overwhelmed by the amount of sensory information they take in, not knowing what information is relevant.

Through use of OT activities, they learn how to better filter out unnecessary input. They have alerting activities, organising activity, calming activities, etc. Specific interventions are there to target each sensory system.

Research based evidence on importance of OT in Autism management –

Some of the research provides a brief overview of the wide variety of occupational therapy intervention approaches for individuals with autism. Individuals with autism demonstrate complex behaviours that require the integration of different approaches and methods. Occupational therapy interventions varies according to the needs of the individuals with autism. The overall goal of occupational therapy is to help the individual with autism improve quality of life and to enable individuals to participate in everyday occupations.

Sensory integration therapy are often used in conjunction with holistic and client centered occupational therapy treatment plan. This practice area is of great importance to the field of occupational therapy in children with autism. Different approaches can assist an individual with autism in a variety of life roles and tasks if it is incorporated into that individual’s life in appropriate way. Using effective strategies and techniques in occupational therapy intervention program provide opportunities to develop wide range of skills in individuals with autism.

Research notes that Occupational therapy is a rehabilitation specialty that facilitates the development of functional skills in children with ASD. Occupational therapists often work as part of an interdisciplinary treatment team. In this capacity, it is important for therapists to communicate across disciplines and make sure that treatment is carried over from one area to another.

There are many therapeutic approaches that occupational therapists can use to encourage growth and development in children with ASD. These treatment approaches have varying levels of evidence supporting their efficacy.

Takeaway message –

In this regard occupational therapy treatment is important for Autism and can go a long way in helping child regulate their behaviour & thus participate more effectively in daily activities. Overall, the benefits of occupational therapy for autism are considerable and the sooner a child starts a program, the better the results.

Most often OT is a part of a comprehensive treatment plan to address autism.

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