There are many pathways to help children struggling with ASD and it can get confusing!
What is the benefit to intervention and what can Occupational or Speech Therapy specifically offer my child with autism? You’ve come to the right address! We spoke with our Director of OT, Leah Gross OTR/L and our Director of Speech, Alana Obuhovs MS CCC-SLP on how therapeutic intervention can help you and your child, read-on!
There are several domains of development that fall under the umbrella term of speech therapy.
The main domains are:
- Receptive language (how we understand)
- Expressive language (how we communicate)
- Social language (how we interact with others in our environment)
- Articulation (how we produce the sounds and sound combinations to form words)
Children with Autism tend to have delays in more than one of the above-mentioned domains. Therefore, it is recommended that children who have been diagnosed with Autism or related disorders receive speech and language therapy, with the goals often revolving around developing better abilities to:
- Follow instructions
- Answer questions
- Relate information coherently
- Initiate appropriate interactions with others
- Respond to social stimuli appropriately
Now that we’ve got speech aid, lets delve into OT.
A child on the autism spectrum can have a very hard time regulating. This aspect of ASD can stem from a sensory conundrum and trouble with emotional regulation. Occupational therapy can help a child integrate through help with regulation. In addition, many times the child can struggle with gross motor skills, including motor planning. Motor planning is the preplanning to gross motor activity.
Let’s break it down –
- Daily routine – Core strength is required to: get dressed, sit at a desk, play sports, walk up steps. In addition, simple tasks of daily living such as toileting, dressing, getting in and out of a car, self-feeding may be difficult for a child with developmental delays. The OT may help to break these tasks down and help teach children with independency.
- Play Time! To climb a slide, a child must first plan out the steps…put one foot on the ladder… and the next foot…pull his body up. Reach for next rung etc. It may seem like second nature to some, but these are things an OT can help a child with autism learn. OT addresses problem solving and teaching kids to move their bodies in a more fluid motion.
Fine Motor Skills are another piece of the picture. An OT can help with fine motor strengthening for play, academia, and daily living skills. We need hand strength to do our buttons, zippers, open and close containers, open doors, write our names and fill out forms. An occupational therapist will work with a child to help them transition through tasks, daily needs, and interactions.
Often, a child on the autism spectrum will have a sensory processing disorder. Alternatively, they may have a very hard time receiving sensory information and interpreting it the same way a typical child would interpret the information. Sensory represents what’s coming in from our environment, so a lot of noise, lights, movement might set out a child with autism off. The OT helps to regulate that child by giving them the sensory input in the clinic and at home. Some therapists may give a sensory diet for home to help the child receive the information without going into panic mode or tantrum mode or whatever negative reaction the child has to the overstimulation of the environment. That’s the idea behind sensory regulation.
Therapeutic sensory processing will work with a child to help them transition through tasks and accommodate different environments so therapists can help alleviate the rigidity in daily schedules and interactions.
Find out more about our services for children with autism here.
The Therapy Place is here to help you in any way they can, please feel free to reach out to our friendly office at (848)285-5121.
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