Children with autism experience difficulties in how they process information or interact with those around them, and it’s been shown that different types of occupational therapy benefit kids with autism. Children on the autism spectrum and those with sensory processing difficulties often receive occupational therapy services to build skills needed to complete daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, schoolwork, handwriting, engaging in play, and more. Occupational therapists can help kids navigate their environment and attend to everyday activities more successfully. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of occupational therapy.
Teaches Emotional Regulation
Emotion regulation skills involve successfully managing and coping with emotions. This includes identifying emotions in oneself and others, understanding different emotions, and appropriately engaging in helpful coping skills. Children with autism generally struggle with reading emotions and finding ways to manage intense emotions. An occupational therapist can help your child identify and regulate their feelings. They may use various methods, including role-playing, games, video modeling, and one-on-one practice.
Develops Fine Motor Skills
Delays in fine motor skills are common in children with autism. While your child may be able to hold a pencil and write or feed themselves with utensils, the results may be sloppy, and the process frustrating for your child. Accomplishing milestones like being able to tie their shoes can be a huge confidence boost for your child, which will help foster social skills. An occupational therapist is trained to help develop these skills. Fine motor skills can be improved through practice in a controlled environment with lots of positive reinforcement.
Helps with Sensory Processing Issues
Many children with autism have difficulty with sensory processing. Sensory processing involves taking in and interpreting the information within our environment. For example, processing touch and movement is part of sensory processing. Children with autism often have over-reactive sensory systems, where their bodies take in or process too much information at one time. This cause the child to feel overwhelmed and over-stimulated. Pediatric occupational therapists thoroughly understand the sensory system and how sensory difficulties can affect participation in essential life skills, such as sleep, dressing, bathing, and eating. Your child’s occupational therapist can recommend modifying these activities, such as changing the child’s bedroom environment to ensure sufficient sleep.
Improves Social Skills
Occupational therapy will also help develop your child’s social skills, as it provides interaction that is crucial to development. During treatment, your child may work on conversational skills and recognizing non-verbal cues such as body language or facial expressions. The therapist may show pictures of different faces and help your child recognize the emotions conveyed in the faces. They may encourage your child to work side-by-side with another child and gradually increase the time they spend together.
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 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.