IS OT RIGHT FOR MY CHILD?
In this issue: Autism
Did you know: Occupational therapists help children with autism develop social, play, self-regulation, motor, executive functioning and self-help skills?
At the Pediatric Development Center children who have an autism diagnosis often receive speech-language therapy and occupational therapy services. Early intervention is especially important as brain development is most rapid during the first five years of life. However, older children also benefit from therapy intervention.
Occupational therapists (OTs) use a holistic approach when working with children diagnosed with autism. OTs believe that all children learn best when they are joyfully engaged. Children diagnosed with autism often have difficulty learning through play and social interactions, but this does not mean they do not enjoy social interactions and have play interests. OTs at the Pediatric Development Center use the child’s interests to expand play and social interactions in a way that is enjoyable and meaningful to the child. In doing so the child develops a wide range of skills during one activity.
For example, if your child likes to jump on a trampoline, the OT will expand that interest to include increased social interaction and play. The therapist may blow bubbles while your child is jumping or join your child in Ring Around the Rosie. As your child demonstrates increased interest in these new activities, the therapist will increase the skill requirements. For example, your child might need to request through eye contact, gestures, words, etc. his or her desire for more bubbles or the therapist will model different ways to pop bubbles, guiding your child to imitate. In this way your child is developing social, play, motor, and self-regulations skills. He or she is also now participating in meaningful back and forth multi-step interaction sequences. Most importantly, your child is learning that social interactions are fun!
Teletherapy: We have found huge benefits in using teletherapy for children with autism. Children and families value the routine and structure that weekly appointments provide. To use the approach described above, therapists can now guide the child’s parent/caregiver through the session. This has been tremendously valuable as the child’s parent is now developing the skills needed to engage his or her child in social-play learning activities at home. We are fortunate to have enthusiastic, fun, creative, and skilled therapists who are embracing teletherapy and all of its benefits. For new clients, speech – language and occupational therapy evaluations can also be provided.
If you would like more information on our teletherapy services, please call the Pediatric Development Center: (301) 869-7505 or email us here