Individualized Occupational Therapy Programs for Autism
Our occupational therapy program aims to help children and adolescents with autism develop specific skills such as handwriting, fine motor skills needed for daily activities like feeding and dressing, procedural skills, and social participation skills. We consider your child holistically when we design our programs, assessing the physical, emotional, sensory, social, and cognitive abilities and needs of each student in our program. We work on sensory integration and sensory modultion in conjunction with other occupational therapies, since sensory processing disorders are often the root cause of under-developed motor skills, the inability to focus, the inability to participate, poor impulse control and aggressive and maladaptive behaviors that an be associated with autism. One of the main goals of our occupational therapy program is to understand your child’s sensory processing disorders—and to design an individual program that addresses them to help enforce self-regulation.
We Use Fun and Unique Activities in Our Occupational Therapy Program
Occupational therapy sounds formal—but the therapies are usually a lot of fun, too. More importantly, occupational therapy is practical and engaging, meaning that it addresses specific, individual problems with workable, sustainable solutions and keeps students focused and occupied.
Some examples of the occupational therapy techniques we use at Springbrook include:
Water Therapy for Autism
Children with autism tend to have a natural affinity for water, partly due to the sensory deprivation and the pressure experienced in water and partly due to it’s calming, visual stimuli. Days at Springbrook frequently include at least one visit to our indoor pool for exercise, free play, or both.
Sensory Integration Therapy for Autism
Children and adolescents with autism are usually under-stimulated or over-stimulated by their environments. We engage students in alerting activities, such as spinning and bouncing games that prime the brain for learning, calming activities, such as music and deep pressure, and organizing activities that require the brain and body to work in coordination. Again, each therapy is designed with the needs of the individual student in mind. For example, students who have difficulty sitting still will often focus better if they sit on an exercise ball or wobble board that requires their concentration, while students who become easily overwhelmed and distracted by sounds might need ear protectors, white noise machines, or an mp3 player to help them focus.
Gardening Therapy for Autism
We also have an on-site garden and are proponents of dirt therapy: it’s scientifically proven that bacteria in the dirt make us happier and healthier! Students love to get outdoors, into the sun, and participate in a meaningful activity that produces visible results.
Food Play for Autism
Many children and adolescents with autism are afraid to try new things, especially new foods. In addition to gardening, our patients participate in “tasting groups” where they try the herbs and vegetables that they’ve grown, which is a great way to engage picky eaters. These groups are always fun, never forced or high-pressure. However, there is real work since many behavioral issues and anxieties associated with autism revolve around food and mealtimes. We conduct all food play outside of regular mealtimes so as not to disrupt the student’s routine.