Treating Autistic Children with Occupational Therapy

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition or disability in humans that can cause several significant, social, communication and behavioral changes. All people who have ASD have a lot of trouble interacting and communicating normally. Their way of functioning, their activities, their skills all are very different and may have to be further developed with the help of some therapies.

Role of occupational therapy (OT) in the treatment of ASD

Occupational therapy deals with the study of human development and growth. It also tackles issues of a person’s interaction through his daily activities. This therapy uses a variety of strategies to help kids feel good and respond better to the world around them. Basic occupational therapy is carried out to make the child’s life more efficient and easier to manage in familiar environments.

Sensory integration therapy

This therapy helps in providing a controlled sensory stimulation with the help of certain activities like rubbing the body, brushing, deep pressure and compression of joints and so on. ‘Sensory Diets’ are often implemented as a part of the sensory integration therapy. This diet involves wearing of weighted vests to provide deep pressure to the entire body which eventually has a calming effect on the child’s nervous system. The benefits of using a weighted vest on an autistic kid have been researched extensively and it has been recommended that wearing of these vests has an extremely calming effect on the child and he is most receptive to his immediate environment. The theory behind the benefit of wearing this weighted vest is that it fits the body snuggly almost like a ‘portable hug’. This tight hug stimulates the muscles and joint through ‘deep pressure touch stimulation’ and has a reassuring effect on the entire body system.

Remarkable improvements have been observed in children and even adults after regular usage of this therapeutic aid. A feeling of security and a sense of focus are the common developmental changes that have been observed.