Occupational Therapist

How can an Occupational Therapist Help with Autism & ADHD?

What is Autism?

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a lifelong non-progressive neuro-developmental disorder. ASD is characterized by developmental difficulties in social interaction and communication (verbal and non-verbal). Children diagnosed with ASD may also exhibit repetitive and ritualistic behavior.

What is ADHD?

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is typically characterized as a disorder of inattention, hyper-attention, and impulsivity. Children with ADHD can become easily distracted, have trouble following directions, make simple mistakes, and have trouble organizing daily activities and tasks. These behaviors usually interfere with school and home life.

How can Occupational Therapy Help?

If a child is referred to occupational therapy, a qualified occupational therapist begins by assessing a child’s needs. An occupational therapist will take into account physical, social, emotional, sensory and cognitive difficulties to determine an appropriate treatment plan.

In treating Autism, this can mean creating a program that encourages social interaction, communication, and developing fine motor skills through writing, crafts, and play activities. The goal of the program can also promote independence while eating, grooming, and dressing.

An occupational therapist can also help a child diagnosed with Autism develop skills in emotional regulation by developing a program that uses role-play activities, teaches a child how to listen to their body, and coach empathetic thought and behavior.

In treating ADHD, an occupational therapist can work on time management and goal attainment by creating rubrics that set clear expectations, establish emotional regulation strategies and guidelines, and provide rewards for task completion.

An occupational therapist may also help devise a “sensory diet.” Children with ADHD often have complex sensory requirements. In technical parlance, a child may be classified as either a bystander, seeker, sensor, or avoider. After establishing how a child processes sensory input, an occupational therapist can work to create a sensory schedule by recommending equipment and/or adapting the environment.

Each child is different, and each will require an individual approach to therapy. But there are lots of effective strategies an occupational therapist can utilize to help children with ADHD and Autism.

For more on how an occupational therapist can help, please call 604.420.7800.