The Top 3 ways OT can help people with ASD

It is estimated that 1 in 70 people in Australia are on the autism spectrum

Being on the Autism spectrum can cause numerous challenges to the person including how a person thinks, feels, interacts with others, and experiences their environment. It is a lifelong disability that starts when a person is born and stays with them into old age. Every Autistic person is different to every other. This is why autism is described as a ‘spectrum’.

Without the right supports every everyday activities like playing with friends or going to the shops can be overwhelming, confusing and frustrating.

The 3 difficulties our OT’s most commonly see our clients on the Autism spectrum struggling with are:

Social skills
Being able to understand other people's point of view and showing interest in what others are saying. This can lead to difficulties making and maintaining friendships and social isolation.

Emotional regulation
This tends to affect our younger clients more, we see them have difficulty in recognising and understanding their sensory needs and challenges, how they are feeling, happy, sad, frustrated, lots of energy or tired and expressing this which if their need are not met can lead to difficulty in task completion, frustration and ultimately meltdowns.

Ideation or putting ideas into action
For example seeing a ball and wanting to kick it, a person on the spectrum can find it difficult to work out all the steps and the sequence these steps must be put in to achieve kicking the ball. This can impact play skills or lead to repetitive play or actions and the child can find it difficult to join in physical activities with their peers and be left out of playground games or sports.  

When the right services are provided to individuals on the spectrum they can learn how to manage or overcome these challenges.

Improving social skills leads to better inclusion with peers and the ability to make and maintain strong friendships.

Being able to regulate their emotions and recognise when they are starting to feel overwhelmed, angry, happy or sad, very energetic or tired can help the child to express their needs more easily, seek a solution and avoid a meltdown.

Having better motor planning skills will lead to less frustration and an increased willingness to try new activities and join in games and sport with their peers.

At Active Life Therapies we strongly believe that the type of holistic therapy we provide is of the most benefit to individuals with ASD. Our clinic spaces are specifically designed to meet both the sensory and functional needs of our clients which can not be as effectively replicated in the community or school setting.

If you know an individual with ASD that could benefit from improving their social skills, emotional regulation and motor planning skills or any other activities or skills that they are struggling with attending OT sessions at Active Life Therapies will be extremely beneficial for them.

Our OT’s work on social skills by using lots of games which require turn taking and winning and losing or require listening skills and question asking. One of our favourite games that encapsulates all these skills is question Jenga. Each of the Jenga blocks has a question written on it which must be asked by the person that removes it and answered by the other players.

Emotional regulation is often a large part of our OT sessions. Once the child is well regulated they are better able to complete other activities, we can’t expect a child who is feeling full of energy to sit still and complete a writing task well. We use a number of techniques depending on the child's state to either settle them or bring their energy levels up. This can involve swings, lycra hammocks or running and crashing. Asking the child to rate how they are feeling on different scales relating to energy or mood helps them to learn to recognise these states and techniques used in our sessions can be transferred to home, school and out in the community to make the environments easier to navigate.

We love a good obstacle course at Active Life Therapies and these are the perfect way to help motor planning and ideation.  We often let the client design part or all of the obstacle course themselves, then help them to problem solve how to complete the sequencing of actions. This increases both gross and fine motor skills and the different movements have the added advantage of providing more sensory input to develop those regulation skills again and valuable brain development.

If any of this relates to your child  or someone hat you know who is on the autism spectrum you’ll be glad to hear we’re able to help with our Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy programs designed to work on social skills, emotional regulation and motor planning skills. Our clinic based programs are not only highly effective but also lots of fun, your child won't even realise what they’re doing is therapy.

You can make an appointment for your child to complete one of our clinic based programs by calling 8398 4681.