What can OT look like for a child on the Autism spectrum?

The job of an Occupational Therapist is to prepare meaningful and functional activities that promote further independence at home, at school, and in the community. For younger children, Occupational Therapists work through play – teaching the child how to form letters correctly, build a structure, or how to mitigate cognitive inflexibility while teaching sharing and turn taking. 

Occupational Therapy can be beneficial for older children on the Autism spectrum as well! For example, for an older child, an Occupational Therapist might help them be independent with morning and nighttime routines, prepare simple meals, organize their backpack and materials, create a plan to prepare for a test, or teach them how to appropriately communicate in the ever-changing social landscape of the teenage years. 

It is important for families to communicate with the therapist and discuss functional challenges the child might be facing. Anecdotes are often helpful in revealing some areas for growth and some areas of strength for our kids! Below are some areas to talk with your therapist about: 

  1. Sleep patterns, sleep and wake cycles, and quality of sleep
  2. Feeding habits, preferred foods, and ability to sit at a meal
  3. Activities of daily living such as teeth brushing, toileting routines (including hand-washing!), and getting dressed
  4. Organizational and planning habits, such as sequencing the steps to a project and managing personal belongings
  5. Social relationships and the ability to initiate and sustain meaningful interaction
  6. Tantrums or outbursts that last longer than 3 minutes