Understanding Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Autism
There are various therapies available that aid children with autism in learning life skills, improving their physical and mental abilities, speech, motor skills etc. Every therapy has a specific purpose and can have different impacts on the learners undergoing the sessions. Occupational therapy is used to educate or train the children in basic skills that are used by us in everyday life.
There are various small activities that we perform every day without over thinking such as eating, combing, buttoning a shirt etc. Though these seem simple, they can be challenging for children with autism due to their developmental challenges and perception.
Many parents often have their doubts about the role of an occupational therapist and physical therapist to help their kids. Both the fields do have an overlap in certain areas however there is a common notion that occupational therapist work on fine motor skills while physical therapy is more so with gross motor skills. In other words OTs work more on upper extremity and PTs on lower extremity. But when dealing with the pediatric population there is quite an overlap possible. – Dr Kinjal Chandra, Founder Pehel Pediatric Therapy Centre
Benefits of Occupational Therapy for Autism
1. Occupational Therapy works on specific goals such as improving social skills, behavior issues, school performance etc. The sessions help the children overcome barriers and learn to cope with them using strategies and skills.
2. The therapist observes the child and helps in better understanding of the child’s need.
3. Children can learn life skills such as putting on a shirt, toilet training, dressing up, brushing teeth, grooming and hygiene etc
4. Better grip on pencil, improved handwriting, learning to cut with scissors, folding paper are some more skills that can learnt.
5. Visual skills and focus on surroundings can be improved.
6. Social skills, interacting or working around others, recognizing emotions, social cues can be learnt.
7. Body posture, personality are also impacted by occupational therapy.
8. Reasoning, problem solving skills can also be improved.
9. Children get to learn more about their own abilities and can gain confidence through occupational therapy.
10. Occupational therapy can also have a positive impact on sensory processing issues or sensitivities that many children with autism have.
There are several benefits and positive impacts of Occupational therapy on children with autism. However, they may vary since every child with autism is unique and may respond differently to therapy.
Krishna S, a mother says, “My son has improved a lot with therapy, both occupational and speech therapy have made an effect in him. He is now calmer and does not get overwhelmed easily in social circles. He is also taking more interest in various activities now. I feel that therapy can make a positive impact although in some cases it may take time.”
Therapy becomes more effective when it is carried out with the involvement of therapist, parents, teachers, family members. Children can be taught many different skills with patience and understanding.
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