As the science around Autism Spectrum Disorder grows, more resources and techniques are becoming available for children on the spectrum. Every child with autism is different, and there are many different avenues of therapy that can help your child in all aspects of life. Occupational therapy helps children and adolescents learn and develop the skills needed to function in the world successfully. Occupational therapists often work with children with autism to help them easily access their natural environments, grow their independence, and improve their ability to socialize with friends and family. Here are some of the benefits of occupational therapy.
Improves Sensory Processing
Many children with autism have some difficulties with sensory processing. This impacts a child’s ability to perform routine activities, such as brushing teeth, engaging with family at dinnertime, or participating in recess at school. An occupational therapist is aware of these issues and uses various strategies, such as a sensory-integration-based approach, to teach your child regulation skills. They can also work with your child on forming their own strategy to manage their sensory systems better. For example, they might encourage your child to recognize their body cues and seek appropriate coping skills to use when over-stimulated.
Improves Emotional Regulation Skills
Emotion regulation involves successfully managing and coping with emotions. This can include recognizing emotions in one’s self and in others, understanding different emotions, and being able to cope appropriately. Children with autism often have difficulty in both identifying and managing their emotions effectively. Occupational therapy can improve emotional regulation by teaching your child how to cope with big emotions, usually through games, toys, or other types of play.
Improves Motor Skills
There are two categories of motor skills: gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills encompass large movements, such as running, walking, and jumping. At the same time, fine motor skills involve smaller muscle movements, such as writing, grasping, and picking up objects. Children with autism often struggle to develop their motor skills. During occupational therapy, the therapist will assess your child’s level of skill and develop strategies to help your child strengthen their muscles and build endurance so that they can complete their daily activities.
Often, children with autism have difficulty understanding the “rules” of social interactions. These unspoken rules include making eye contact, taking turns in conversation, and reading body language. An occupational therapist will work with your child to better understand common social norms and the rules of social interaction.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.