Occupational Therapies for Children with Autism

Occupational Therapies

Occupational therapies help children in the development of self-help skills enabling them to eventually carry out activities of daily living without assistance. The progression of these skills requires several practice activities promoting fine and gross motor coordination to be presented. Some children with autism resist engaging in activities like coloring, cutting, and beading while others are very motivated to complete them. These sorts of activities help children develop the skills necessary to dress and feed themselves and to complete academic work. When speech and OT are combined, occupational therapists will often engage children in an enjoyable sensory activity, like swinging.

The therapist will stop the swing and prompt the children to say “more” or “swing” before they will resume the swinging. The sensation of swinging back and forth is frequently motivating for children with autism, who find it a comforting source of stimulation. With their attention focus on the swinging sensations, children are better able to attend to speech therapists’ word use prompts. Children who cannot use words are often prompted to imitate simple sounds.

Language Development

Since language development is severely delayed in many cases of autism, speech therapists may engage children in preverbal imitation activities. The therapy begins with therapists helping children from simple mouth movements, like the opening, sticking out the tongue, and puckering. These seemingly simple oral movements are often difficult for autistic children to copy. Some speech therapists incorporate mirrors into the therapy to help children with preverbal imitation.The muscles used to operate the mouth are very complex and difficult to learn to operate. In some cases, it is best to begin speech therapy with sign language which is visual and concrete, and far simpler to learn to perform than oral speech.

Speech And Occupational

Speech and occupational therapists can use hand-over-hand prompts to help children sign accurately. They cannot physically prompt them to speak. Opponents of the use of sign language have argued that children who learn and use sign language to communicate will not later become motivated to learn to speak. This worry is unfounded, however, as it has been found that sign language helps to facilitate spoken words in children with autism. Therapist observes children see if they can do tasks they are expected to do at their ages — getting dressed or playing a game, for example. Sometimes, the therapist will have the child videotaped during the day in order to see how the child interacts with his or her environment in order to better assess the kind of care the child needs

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