Occupational therapists study human growth and development and a person’s interaction with the environment through daily activities. They are experts in the social, emotional, and physiological effects of illness and injury. This knowledge helps them promote skills for independent living in people with autism and other developmental disorders.
Occupational therapists work as part of a team that includes parents, teachers, and other professionals. They help set specific goals for the person with autism. These goals often involve social interaction, behavior, and classroom performance.
Occupational therapists can help in two main ways: evaluation and therapy.
How is occupational therapy useful for evaluation of ASD?
The therapist observes children to see if they can do tasks they are expected to do at their ages — getting dressed or playing a game, for example. Sometimes, the therapist will have the child videotaped during the day in order to see how the child interacts with his or her environment so that he or she can better assess the kind of care the child needs. The therapist might note any of the following:
- Attention span and stamina
- Transition to new activities
- Play skills
- Need for personal space
- Responses to touch or other types of stimuli
- Motor skills such as posture, balance, or manipulation of small objects
- Aggression or other types of behaviors
- Interactions between the child and caregivers