Occupational Therapists can help children with ASD with motor skills and daily life skills. The overall goal of occupational therapy is to help the person improve his or her quality of life at home and in school and to be as independent as possible.
However, one of the most essential roles of an Occupational Therapist is to assess and target the child’s sensory processing difficulties as the majority of autistic children tend to have significantly different patterns of sensory processing to their peers and to children with other special educational needs.
Studies have shown that autistic children are slower to integrate inputs coming in from their senses, making their processing speed much slower, which creates challenges in performing everyday tasks.
It may be difficult for them to filter out background noise. Other signs of processing issues include:
- Problems with balance
- Problems with body position in space
- Oversensitivity/Under-sensitivity to touch.
Social, behavioural, or attention problems can be partly a result of these sensory challenges.
Adding the right filters and intervention to target each sensory system helps the child’s nervous system become more organised/regulated and therefore assists the child with attention and performance.
Occupational therapists are key to this intervention. Children are often prescribed a sensory diet/lifestyle by the occupational therapist.