Treating Kids with Autism: Occupational Therapy’s Benefits

Autism Spectrum Disorder

 

The term ‘sensory sensitivities’ refers to how children with Autism respond to stimulation of the senses. Children with disabilities “exhibit significantly more sensory processing issues than children without disabilities” (Critz, Blake, & Nogueira, 2015, p.711). Kids with Autism may be overly sensitive or have diminished sensitivity with some senses and not others. The ways in which such sensitivities manifest are unique to each child, and thus warrant evaluation to develop a personalized plan of care (Raising Children Network, 2017).

Occupational Therapy (OT) Treatment Options

The OT cares for kids with Autism by developing a plan with the family and school to treat those sensitivities that most affect daily living and positive development. These areas may include self-care, movement, play, or learning. A sensory issue that affects each day is hypersensitivity to sound. The OT provides equipment and suggestions/interventions for reducing auditory stimulation in school, at home, and in social settings.

Therapy options progress as the child’s intervention plan deepens because of gradual adaptation to the sensory stimulus. This process takes time and requires ongoing communication among those involved with a child’s care. The OT is prepared to care for children with hypersensitivity and/or hyposensitivity associated with sensory experiences, ranging from touch and vision to pain, temperature, position, balance and movement.

The OT is skilled in the introduction of strategies that address the therapy needs of kids with overlapping sensory integration needs, such as spatial awareness. In this case, focusing on the issues associated with the “vestibular-visual-auditory ‘triad’” provides the child with therapeutic action that has positive outcomes associated with one’s “spatial envelope” (Arky, n.d. para. 13).

Family Involvement 

The family is key to children’s well-being and success. Each family benefits from a supportive network that includes loved ones, friends, community, and schools. For families with kids with Autism this network includes formal relationships with therapists, educators, physicians, and counselors. Therapeutic and educational meetings and agreements that actively involve a child’s family specify need, learning priorities, interventions, and outcomes.

The family and OT share ideas and methods for providing follow through of therapies in the home and community settings. Involvement of siblings, extended family members, and friends encourages the child’s development and broadens experience beyond structured settings. Observations by those who are socially close to the kid with Autism can add measurably to an understanding of the effects of sensory integration treatment options.

SMARTfit™ Benefits   

SMARTfit™  systems are designed for children’s physical development  and is well suited for kids with Autism. Strike Targets are suitable for spatial awareness, auditory, and visual sensory integration. The cognitive processing and social inclusion aspects of this equipment add to a kid’s growing sense of abilities and self-awareness.  For more information about Strike Targets and our other technology, contact us at 1-800-900-8542 x 110

 

References

Arky, B. (n.d.) Treating sensory processing issues: Specialized gyms treat over-sensitive (or under-sensitive) kids. Retrieved from https://childmind.org/article/treating-sensory-processing-issues/

Critz, C., Blake, K., Nogueira,E. (2015).  Sensory processing challenges in children. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, (11) 7, pp. 710-716.

Raising Children Network. (2017). Sensory sensitivities: children and teenagers with autism spectrum disorder. Retrieved from http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/autism_spectrum_disorder_sensory_sensitivities.html

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