Autism is often characterized by difficult communicating and connecting with others, according to WebMD. Additionally, individuals with autism also show interested limited to specific activities and play. However,
Autism Speaks also outlines a list of smaller symptoms which frequently present in individuals with autism, including trouble with how they take in information concerning tastes, textures, smells, light, and movement.
Treatment for autism should begin early, and should take a multi-faceted approach. Often, a team is formed of therapist, teachers, parents, and other professionals. Current research suggests there are great benefits to having an Occupational Therapist as a key member of the treatment team.
According to National Autism Resources, the goal of occupational therapy is to assist children with their ability to perform activities of daily living “ such as dressing, tying shoes or holding a pencil.” Additionally, Occupational Therapist aid children in sensory integration, or how they process the information their senses take in, explains News Medical.
By working to improve the way children with Autism process sensory information, therapists enable these individuals to develop the necessary skills for performing the tasks necessary for everyday life, explains Autism Speaks.
Occupational therapy is an incredibly practical approach to treating Autism Spectrum Disorder. National Autism Resources explains how autism treatment may take on various forms, including:
- developing a plan for handling overstimulated or stressful environments
- creating a diet which takes into account sensory difficulties and is therapeutically helping to improve these sensory difficulties.
- building situations of structured playing and using interaction with toys and peers to encourage connection and communication.
- addressing difficulty with practical life skills such as using the restroom, getting dressed, eating, personal hygiene, cleaning their home, and work related skills.
Extensive research conducted at Thomas Jefferson University has proven that occupational therapy, when combined with other treatment strategies, is vital in improving self-care and social skills in individuals with Autism.