Autism Occupational Therapy

by Sam Malone


Autism is a mental health problem, and as such there is no single way or group of ways to treat this problem. This is because the degree of autism can vary by a wide margin. Also, autistic children can behave very differently from each other. For this reason, each individual is treated on a case by case basis.

Occupational therapy has for long been used to treat mental health patients. The use of occupational therapy in autism is not new, although it is not streamlined as of now, and many therapists rely on their experience and intuition to set up programs.

Let us explore what occupational therapy for children with autism is all about.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy, simply put, is engaging the concerned person in some occupation to promote wellbeing. Occupational therapy is known to have a number of benefits in treating mental health problems, and these benefits are expected to help autistic children too.

Occupational therapy for autistic children

Autistic children have some unique problems, and relationship problems are just one among them. Many autistic children do not possess good muscular coordination, while others may have communication problems.

Autism occupational therapy is good because any occupation involves repetition, and autistic children are very good at repetition. By repeating, therapists seek to engage autistic children and improve them in certain target areas by the use of an occupation that will accomplish their goal.

Benefits for Autism

Some of the benefits of occupational therapy for autistic children are given below.

  • Sticking to schedules
  • Setting of routines
  • Improving coping skills
  • Participation in the community
  • Improved employability
  • Encourages taking up leisure activities
  • Improves money handling skills
  • Promotes independence

Especially for older children, occupational therapy is extremely beneficial as it provides what is called ‘productive aging’. They will be able to engage with society at large, participate in activities and lead more fulfilling lives.

For example, many autistic children are taught how to drive, enabling them to gain independence. Not all autistic children can drive, but you should remember that autistic children are also highly intelligent and they can probably do certain things far better than we can. It is just that the way their brain is wired, things that are very normal for average children is very difficult for them and vice versa. Autism occupational therapy therefore focuses on a holistic approach to the individual rather than focusing on any defects or disabilities.

References:

  1. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/autism.html
  2. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10500858

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