Occupational Therapy for Autism: 3 Benefits for Children

Reviewed by:

March 7, 2022

Occupational Therapy (OT) for autism is one of the most impactful therapies that uses day-to-day activities to help children on the autism spectrum. The therapy helps children improve their gross and fine motor skills for routine tasks and helps them become more socially active.

Impact of Occupational Therapy for children with autism 

While some children develop within the expected timeframe, some children might face issues that delay or slow down their physical or mental growth. For these situations, getting therapy from professional pediatric occupational therapists can help you and your child approach any developmental concerns.

In addition, Occupational Therapy (OT) helps improve a child’s day-to-day activities at home and school, even if the action is as simple as using a pencil without a parent's help. The principal purpose of occupational therapy for autism is to help children develop functional life skills.

Occupational Therapy helps children analyze the world around them and learn how to interact with their environments. These skills will allow them to connect with others and accomplish things independently in the future. Furthermore, Occupational Therapy will also help children with autism develop fine motor, perceptual, and sensory skills.

How do you know if your child needs Occupational Therapy?

Over time, every child develops different skills that aid them in their day-to-day lives. However, when this growth is delayed, parents must seek the right professional assistance to help your child overcome these developmental delays. 

Here are some crucial symptoms that indicate your child is facing difficulties in particular aspects of life and needs the immediate help of a therapist who can provide the care and support your child requires.   

  • Developmental delays 

Development delays, such as your child not being able to pick up or manipulate food or toy items at an appropriate age or crawl or walk at a developmentally appropriate age could be an indication that your child needs occupational therapy. You may also notice other symptoms like your child not responding to your actions which could be due to hindered physical and mental developments. If you have any concerns about your child, you should consult with a medical professional.

  • Difficulty with fine motor skills 

If your child struggles with fine motor skills like strength and control, this is another sign that they may need occupational therapy. If you do not seek professional care at the right time, you may find your child struggling to perform necessary day-to-day tasks such as reading, writing, or other daily functional activities. 

  • Difficulty developing gross motor skills

Hopping, running, jumping, or playing with a ball are some everyday activities for children. However, if the motor abilities of your child are taking time to develop, they may find it hard to accomplish any of these activities. 

If you think your child cannot perform these sorts of activities, you should book an appointment with an occupational therapist to help your child overcome these development delays. 

  • Sensory problems

If a child tends to overreact to smell, taste, or sensory processing tasks, they may have sensory challenges. Children with sensory challenges may show a lack of sensitivity and a continual requirement to seek out sensations by touching objects. In such circumstances, Occupational Therapy is an option that helps your child overcome this developmental delay.

What are the benefits of Occupational Therapy for autism?

Occupational Therapy concentrates on growing your child’s independence in different activities and encouraging age-appropriate development. It ensures that your child develops all the abilities required to become an enthusiastic participant in the community and lead a self-sufficient adult life. 

Additionally, there are several ways Occupational Therapy helps children with autism. Occupational therapists foster, support, and develop the aptitudes required by children to be active in their home, school setting, and beyond. In addition, active participation in life encourages: 

  • learning 
  • self-confidence 
  • self-esteem
  • social interaction.
  • independence  

Occupational therapists employ a holistic strategy by considering your child's social, physical, emotional, cognitive, and sensory abilities. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) usually have difficulty communicating and interacting with others, thus, their activities, interests, and play aptitudes may remain limited. 

Occupational therapists can help children with growth delays at home or school. Therapists teach skills that allow children to participate independently across various daily activities. Play skills, fine motor skills, self-care abilities, and socialization are all targeted areas that are addressed through Occupational Therapy. 

Here are some advantages of opting for Occupational Therapy for children with autism. 

  • Improves gross and fine motor skills 

Gross motor skills involve the larger body muscles which are crucial for walking, crawling, jumping, catching a ball, and more. Occupational therapists can assist your child in improving these abilities as they are essential for stability, locomotion, balance, and postural control. In contrast, fine motor skills are based on the coordination of the smaller hands and fingers muscles. 

Fine motor skills are crucial for educational success, managing clothing fasteners, eating, holding a pencil, and more. An occupational therapist can help enhance your child’s fine motor coordination to improve their capability to complete day-to-day tasks more independently. 

  • Enhanced executive functioning skills

Occupational Therapy for autism can handle executive functioning skills such as concentration, initiation, organization, sequencing, and recollection to enhance academic performance and the capability to accomplish day-to-day routines more independently. 

  • Improves visual motor or visual perceptual skills: 

Visual perceptual skills are a child's ability to interpret and organize visual input and understand its meaning. An occupational therapist can help improve a child’s visual motor skills that are crucial for day-to-day tasks such as playing, handwriting, and reading.

Things to remember while scheduling Occupational Therapy for autism

  • Maintain transparency

An occupational therapist will request facts concerning your child’s medical and growth history. The more details the therapist has about your child, the higher the possibilities of therapy being successful.

  • Collaborate with an occupational therapist 

Occupational therapists facilitate and encourage the collaboration and participation of the parents by asking them to be a part of the decision-making and therapy process. Depending on the challenges your child is undergoing, private therapy sessions can help build trust between an occupational therapist and your child, leading to more rapid progress.

  • Keep interacting with your child

After every therapy session, keep interacting with your child about their experience. Try not to be overbearing in your communication or treat your child as a grown-up. Having a constant flow of communication between yourself and your child will help you track progress made.

Conclusion

As a parent, you should do everything to help your child overcome everyday challenges that hinder their mental and physical growth. Do not underestimate the significance of Occupational Therapy for autism as it can help your child lead a healthy and fulfilling life. 

At Songbird, our therapists use occupational therapy with best-in-class therapists to help your child succeed and grow by setting a higher standard for children’s autism care. With a deeply passionate team and innovative technology, we’re building a world where every child can access world-class care at home, uniquely tailored to them.

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