How Pediatric Occupational Therapy Can Help Kids with Autism

Autism therapyPediatric occupational therapy helps children who have difficulties with the activities that occupy them daily, including play, self-help, learning, socializing, and more. This type of therapy can prove useful for kids with developmental delays by strengthening fine motor, cognitive and visual-perceptual skills while also addressing sensory-processing issues.

Occupational therapy can benefit children with various conditions, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Kids with ASD commonly have difficulty socializing with others and communicating, which can make it hard for them to play and take part in activities both at home and at school, according to WebMD. However, pediatric occupational therapy can improve their ability to interact in these environments.

If you have a child with ASD and are interested in learning about how pediatric occupational therapy could potentially help, here are the answers to a few questions you might have.

1. Why is pediatric occupational therapy a good idea for children with autism spectrum disorder? Occupational therapy addresses various skills that kids need to successfully participate in day-to-day life, which helps children with autism and other conditions become independent. Those skills include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Fine motor skills that involve coordination of small muscles in the hands. This encompasses writing, feeding, playing, and dressing, among other activities.
  • Hand-eye coordination, or visual motor skills, which are the foundation for many common daily activities, such as using scissors, catching a ball, and coloring, among others.
  • Activities of daily living (ADL), which are things we do every day, such as feeding, grooming, socializing, and more.

Occupational therapists can also help with sensory processing issues, which an estimated 80 percent of children with autism experience, according to The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

It’s important to note that in addition to helping children with ASD, pediatric occupational therapy can also benefit kids with other conditions, such as traumatic injuries, chronic illnesses, post-surgical conditions, birth injuries or birth defects, hand injuries, sensory processing disorders, and developmental delays.

2. How can I find a pediatric occupational therapist? Kids with ASD can often access occupational therapy through school, since the law requires making the treatment available to students with disabilities, the AOTA states. Additionally, many insurance plans will cover private occupational therapy, and some states even provide waivers that allow families with higher incomes to get occupational therapy for their children with ASD covered by Medicaid.

3. Are there other types of pediatric therapy my child could benefit from in addition to occupational? Yes. In fact, behavioral therapy, or applied behavioral analysis (ABA), has been demonstrated to help children across the autism spectrum in developing and honing crucial life skills and reducing problematic behavior, according to the Child Mind Institute.   

If you have any questions about occupational therapy, behavioral therapy or treatment options for children with autism in general, our pediatric therapists would be happy to assist you. We provide compassionate and comprehensive pediatric care to improve the lives of kids of all ages, one step at a time. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today by calling 847-707-6744 or emailing info@littlestepspt.com.

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