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Can Occupational Therapy Help Manage Autism?

Can Occupational Therapy Help Manage Autism?

April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to enhance awareness and understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and promote acceptance and inclusion of individuals with autism. Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. 

At PediaPlex, our multidisciplinary team provides a cohesive plan to help children and their families take advantage of valuable therapies. Pediatric occupational therapy (OT) is one such therapy. 

The PediaPlex team is proud to offer this and other therapies, including speech and ABA therapy. 

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession that focuses on helping people achieve their goals in everyday activities or occupations. The objective of occupational therapy is to assist individuals in participating in meaningful and purposeful activities that are important to them, such as self-care, work, and leisure activities. 

Occupational therapists use a holistic and individualized approach to treatment, addressing physical, cognitive, emotional, and environmental factors that may affect your ability to engage in daily activities.

How can occupational therapy help manage autism?

Occupational therapy can be helpful for people with autism. Here are some ways occupational therapy can improve the quality of life:

Sensory integration

Many children and adults with autism endure sensory processing difficulties, which impacts how the brain processes information from the senses. People with sensory processing difficulties are often sensitive to light, sound, touch, and taste.

Occupational therapists can help individuals with autism regulate their sensory systems by creating a sensory-friendly environment, providing sensory input through activities such as swinging or deep pressure touch, and teaching self-regulation strategies.

Fine motor skills

Occupational therapy can help individuals with autism develop fine motor skills, which involve the coordination of small muscles in the hands and fingers. Therapy activities such as drawing and manipulating small objects improve fine motor skills so that people with autism can do more with less frustration.

Gross motor skills

Gross motor skills involve the coordination of large muscles in the body. Occupational therapists can help individuals with autism develop gross motor skills by engaging them in jumping, hopping, and throwing activities.

Social skills

Social skills are often challenging for individuals with autism, an area where occupational therapy is beneficial. Your child or loved one can learn social cues and have opportunities for social engagement to practice their newly developed skills. 

Self-care skills

Daily care activities such as dressing, grooming, and feeding are critical parts of helping people with autism gain some independence. When engaged in occupational therapy, your child or loved one will learn self-help strategies and self-care skills and address any sensory or motor difficulties that may impact self-care.

Executive functioning

Executive functioning refers to cognitive processes that enable individuals to plan, organize, and carry out tasks. Individuals with autism may have difficulty with executive functioning, an area where occupational therapy can help. 

Occupational therapy can assist your child or loved one with organization strategies, time management, and problem-solving skills. Gaining these skills increases the quality of life for people with autism. 

Occupational therapy can be a valuable intervention for managing the symptoms of autism. By addressing sensory processing difficulties, motor skills, social skills, self-care skills, and executive functioning, occupational therapists can enhance the quality of life for individuals with autism.

If you are a caregiver or parent of a child with autism considering occupational therapy, contact the PediaPlex team by calling the nearest location to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Southlake, Fort Worth, and Frisco, Texas.

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