FitnessForHealth_Pediatric Occupational Therapy & Autism

PEDIATRIC OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY & AUTISM (continued)

Working with an occupational therapist can help your childwithAutismSpectrumDisorder (ASD) to developmany skills required for daily life. This type of therapy focuses on improving sensory processing and neuromotor skills to help children become more functional and independent, as childrenwithASD face a range of challenges in daily life routines across home, school, and community environments. HowWill Occupational Therapy (Ot) Benefit My Child? The ultimate goal for ALL occupational therapy practitioners is to help facilitate their clients and families to participate and enjoy life to the fullest. On a “micro” level, OT will help your child to: • Develop crucial self-regulation skills that are essential for building resilience, confidence, and copingwith sensory triggers across life settings. • Improve sensory processing skills to help your child adapt, organize, and respond to a wide range of sensory inputs such as sounds, smells, food textures, touch, movement, and visual stimuli. • Develop fine and gross motor skills. • Develop independent activities of daily living skills (ADLs) such as feeding, dressing, hygiene & toileting, mobility, household chores, and completing morning and evenings routines. • Build social success and friendship skills in the context of play and motor-based activities. At the “macro” level, OT focuses on helping children with ASD to enjoy relationships and occupations (work roles) across the lifespan.

Childhood occupations include things like play, learning, supporting family routines, developing leisure and hobby interests. Sometimes OT sessions will include creative play tasks such as designing and navigating obstacle courses. At other times OT will focus on specific tasks like buttoning a shirt, trying to eat new food textures, or holding a crayon or pencil correctly for writing. Opportunities for social engagement and carry-over of skills to small group sessions are often pursued to achieve your child’s treatment goals. By building success upon success, your child learns to appreciate his/her unique strengths and acquires resilience and confidence to succeed. Occupational therapists provide helpful guidelines and tasks for parents to work on at home and strive to keep your family’s needs and priorities in balance with the needs of your child. Parents are regarded as partners in the therapy process and a united effort is imperative to your child’s success. What Else Can I Expect? OT is often just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to helping a child with ASD. Developmental needs can vary widely from child to child and there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment plan. In addition to your primary care physician and education team, your child may also benefit from the following services in addition to occupational therapy: • Speech&Language Therapy This therapy is critical to help your child with ASD develop intelligible and clear communication skills essential for learning and for social connections. If your child is non- verbal, there are augmentative and alternative communication strategies and devices that

can be used to help your child convey his/her wants and needs. • Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) ABA therapists are adept at determining factors that trigger unexpected behaviors and strategies that reinforce and promote desirable and expected behaviors. Detailed and highly structured behavior plans can be implemented in the home, school, and community settings. • Physical Therapy Kids with ASD often have trouble with upright sitting, running, jumping, walking, and other gross motor tasks. A physical therapist specialized in pediatrics will work with your child to help build strength, balance, and essential gross motor skills necessary for safe mobility and engagement in expected playground and fitness activities. Occupational therapists seek collaboration and continuity of services for their clients and families. This helps improve the effectiveness of all the interventions your child receives. Parents may request their OT providers to consult with other specialists as a part of the ongoing treatment plan. Get Started Today! Occupational therapy can help your child develop to his/her fullest potential. Sessions with our integrated care team at Fitness for Health are safe, friendly, and encouraging. If you’d like to schedule an appointment for an evaluation or begin therapy for your child, please contact Fitness for Health today at (301) 231-7138 to get the process started. You can also visit our website at fitnessforhealth.org/ kid-teen-programs/autism-spectrum-disorders for more information.

Your Child’s Fullest Potential is Here: Call (301) 231-7138 to schedule your appointment today!

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