Benefits of Occupational Therapy to Children with Autism

Amisha Gandhi

5 May 2022

To make sense of your surroundings, you integrate your senses. You use your sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste, balance, and spatial awareness. However, this ability may be hard to grasp for some children and young people with autism. They may have trouble sifting sensory input, which can be overwhelming, uncomfortable, and even painful.

There are some people with autism who deliberately seek sensory stimulation to settle down, reduce anxiety, and (in many cases) just enjoy and relax. Sensory processing differences are when people experience sensory inputs differently from the neurotypical population.

When a person is suffering sensory overload, their behaviour may be misinterpreted as distress. A withdrawal or complete shutdown may occur as a result of sensory overload. 

Providing students with sensory processing difficulties with the appropriate sensory opportunities and environmental modifications throughout the day will help them learn more effectively and improve their overall wellbeing.

The importance of occupational therapists cannot be overstated. Providing guidance and interventions for each sense helps the child’s nervous system become more organised and regulated. 

This method can help the youngster feel less anxious and tired, as well as increase their focus and performance. Find out more about occupational therapy and how occupational therapists utilise various programmes to assist children with autism.

Explaining Occupational Therapy

Every child will have their own set of sensory demands, which will change depending on their mood, environment, and therapeutic involvement.

Occupational therapists help kids develop, maintain, and improve the abilities they need to perform in school and beyond. These skills include self-care (clothing, personal cleanliness, etc.), productivity (emotional regulation, organisational skills, etc.), and leisure (socialising with friends, participating in hobbies, etc.).

An occupational therapist helps autistic children acquire handwriting, fine motor skills, and daily life skills. However, the most important task is to evaluate and address the child’s sensory processing differences. This process is effective in removing learning hurdles and assisting kids in being calmer and more focused.

Looking Into the Sensory Diet Programme

The body requires activities to retain its arousal level at an ideal level, just as it requires the right diet equally spaced throughout the day.

A sensory diet or lifestyle is a daily activity schedule that has been specially devised. It tries to incorporate sensory activities into a kid’s waking day in order to increase focus and attention while also ensuring that the youngster feels just right throughout the day. 

When stimulation levels drop too low, activities like dancing, singing, or going to the gym can help to raise them. On the other hand, a soothing activity, like going for a stroll, reading, or listening to music, can assist if levels grow too high and the person becomes overstimulated.

A trained occupational therapist can construct an effective sensory diet for the student to follow throughout the day using their advanced training and evaluation skills. The goal is to improve one’s overall health and quality of life.

Problems That a Sensory Diet Can Solve

A sensory diet’s effects can be both instant and cumulative. They truly help a student’s nervous system reorganise over time so that they are better able to handle conditions and have the ability to control their own regulatory requirements.

Self-regulation tactics are taught and coached to help people recognise their own behaviours and emotions, as well as to adapt and employ strategies to meet the needs of any environment. As a result, burnout/meltdown can be avoided, along with tension, anxiety, and weariness.

This enables the student to focus on the job at hand rather than being distracted by stimuli such as rubbing their shirt label on their neck, a noise outside, or getting bumped in the corridor.

Conclusion 

Starting the day with a sensory circuit—a sensory-motor activity programme that helps students develop a ready-to-learn condition—is widely recommended by occupational therapists. Sensory circuits are a set of activities that are designed to stimulate all of the senses. They’re a terrific way to wake up or settle kids into the day.

After these exercises, children are more regulated, calmer, and focused, reducing anxiety and improving opportunities to flourish and achieve in today’s overwhelming world.

If you need a paediatric occupational therapist in Sydney, Cloud Nine Therapy Services is here for you. We’re a newly launched child-centred occupational therapy practice located in Blacktown. Find out more by checking out our services!