Occupational therapists work to promote, maintain, and develop the skills needed by students to be functional in a school setting and beyond. Active participation in life promotes:
- fine and gross motor skills
- sensory regulation
- social interaction.
- muscle strength
- and many many more….
Occupational therapists use a holistic approach in planning programs. They take into account the physical, social, emotional, sensory and cognitive abilities and needs of students.
In the case of autism, an occupational therapist works to develop skills for handwriting, fine motor skills and daily living skills. However, the most essential role is also to assess and target the child’s sensory processing disorders. This is beneficial to remove barriers to learning and help the students become calmer and more focused.
OT’s working with children who have a sensory processing disorder often have postgraduate training in sensory integration.
Sensory integration therapy is based on the assumption that the child is either “over stimulated” or “under stimulated” by the environment. Therefore, the aim of sensory integration therapy is to improve the ability of the brain to process sensory information so that the child will function better in his/her daily activities.
Children are often prescribed a sensory diet/lifestyle by the occupational therapist.