Learn what occupational therapy is, why it benefits children with autism and how it's implemented at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy (OT) is a health profession that helps individuals with various disabilities achieve independence in all areas of their lives. It gives people the "skills for the job of living" independent and satisfying lives. Occupational therapy services at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) include evaluation, assessment, treatment and consultation.

What is an occupational therapy evaluation?

An occupational therapy evaluation will assess a child's gross motor, fine motor, visual motor, visual perceptual, handwriting, daily living and sensory processing skills. The use of standardized assessment tools, non-standardized assessment tools, parent interview and clinical observations will be used to assess the child's performance.

Why is an occupational evaluation beneficial?

At CARD, an occupational therapy evaluation identifies your child's patterns of strength and need that impact daily performance of functional tasks such as eating, dressing and writing. Recommendations are provided for home, school and community implementation.

What areas are addressed in occupational therapy treatment?

Occupational therapy treatment encompasses several areas of performance. All treatment plans and therapy goals are created and implemented based on the child's individual needs.

  • Fine Motor Skills: Pertaining to movement and dexterity of the small muscles in the hands and fingers.
  • Gross Motor Skills: Pertaining to movement of the large muscles in the arms, legs and trunk.
  • Visual Motor Skills: Referring to a child's movement based on the perception of visual information.
  • Oral Motor Skills: Pertaining to movement of muscles in the mouth, lips, tongue and jaw, including sucking, biting, crunching, chewing and licking.
  • Self-Care Skills: Pertaining to daily dressing, feeding and toileting tasks.
  • Sensory Integration: The ability to take in, sort out and respond to the information we receive from the world.
  • Motor Planning Skills: The ability to plan, implement and sequence motor tasks.
  • Neuromotor Skills: Pertaining to the underlying building blocks of muscle strength, muscle tonicity, postural mechanisms and reflex integration.

How does occupational therapy help a child?

Occupational therapy uses purposeful activities to enhance and encourage skill development. Guided by the child's interests, the therapist provides fun and motivating activities that aim to provide a "just-right challenge" so that the child will develop the underlying skills needed to effectively complete functional tasks. The goal of occupational therapy treatment is to use meaningful activities to assist the child in achieving functional skills needed for daily living. When skill and strength cannot be developed or improved, occupational therapy offers creative solutions and alternatives for carrying out daily activities.