What is Occupational therapy for children with autism?

What is Occupational therapy for children with autism?

Occupational therapy is the use of decisive activity or interventions aimed to achieve functional outcomes, which are known to promote health, prevent injury as well as disability. The therapy is also designed to develop, advance, tolerate, or restore the uppermost level of independence an individual who has an injury, illness, psychosocial dysfunction, developmental or learning disability, and cognitive impairment. It consists of assessment by means of skilled observation and evaluation through the administration and interpretation of standardized or non-standardized measurements and tests.

The main services associated with the therapy include the following. The assessment along with the provision of treatment in consultation with a child’s guardians, along with interventions directed toward developing, improving, sustaining as well as restoring daily living skills.

In this context, daily living skills include self-care skills, and activities that include interactions with others and the environment, play skills or leisure abilities, and enhancing educational performance skills. In addition, occupational therapy involves developing, improving, sustaining and restoring sensory motor of a child with autism, and education of the person in carrying out appropriate interventions.

Occupational therapy for children with autism

Occupational therapy is used to treat Australian children with autism. Many children with autism in Australia have difficulties taking in or making sense of different information that comes from the senses. Some children with autism are known to cover their ears to specific sounds. Ideally, a fair number of children with autism have difficulty modulating responses to one or more kinds of sensory stimuli. Therefore, occupational therapy is used to help these children.

As a result, many occupational therapists in Australia who work hand in hand with children with autism work on what is considered sensory integration, achieving better modulated responses. Occupational therapists are usually part of a team autism assessment when the assessment takes place at a centre that provides assessment for a number of childhood difficulties. While it can be helpful to have a reliable and effective occupational therapist as part of an assessment team, addressing sensory processing over and under responses is never as big a problem as helping a child develop social skills or learn to use words to communicate.

Occupational therapy is regularly provided to Australian children with autism. The procedure involves teaching the child to process as well as control feedback from his or her senses, including muscle coordination, smell, inner ear problems, visual and touch. In most cases, the sensory diet needs to be controlled because of sensory overload.

For instance, a child with autism can become over-stimulated in a noisy classroom and need time out in a rumpus room. Occupational therapy helps autistic children with adaptive living skills, including eating, dressing, moving around the school, sitting, and writing, walking, and learning vocational skills.

The main intervention approaches associated with occupational therapy are sensorimotor therapy and behaviour intervention. Sensorimotor therapy is commonly employed by occupational and physical therapists in the work with children with autism. Occupational therapy focuses on the development of fine and gross motor skills, along with the lessening of sensory processing problems.

In Australia, occupational therapists are found in a variety of settings, including private clinics, hospitals and schools. Occupational therapy presents many resemblances to physical therapy, but differs in its emphasis on helping children with autism to function in their everyday environment.


1) Occupational therapy for autism: http://www.jumpstart-autism-therapy.com/occupationaltherapyforautism.html

2) Paediatric Occupational Therapy Service: http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/disability-and-carers/program-services/for-people-with-disability/helping-children-with-autism/paediatric-occupational-therapy-service