The Autism Occupational Therapy Program at Springbrook

Our autism occupational therapy program addresses both the developmental delays and the sensory processing difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorder. Children and adolescents with autism process sensory information much differently, and at different speeds, than their peers. Studies estimate that up to 70 percent of children with autism struggle to process sensory input, and many also have difficulty filtering out irrelevant sensory information, which can lead to trouble focusing, sensory overload, meltdowns, withdrawal, and even complete shutdown.
Our occupational therapist uses simple, practical strategies to help children and adolescents with autism add the sensory filters that they need in order to improve their behavior, attention, and performance of daily activities. The goal of occupational therapy is to help students develop the skills they need to be successful in a school setting and beyond, but the benefits are cumulative and often much more far-reaching. Occupational therapy for autism can result in improved learning, more active participation in life, more independence, improved social interactions, better diet, better overall health and wellness, emotional control, sef-regulation of maladaptive behaviors, and improved personal satisfaction, self-esteem, and self-confidence.

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.

Learn More About Occupational Therapy for Autism

If you are interested in more information about our behavioral programs and the integration of occupational therapy for autism, don’t hesitate to contact us at (864) 834-8013.

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Need to make a referral?

Contact us at (864) 834-8013 to make a referral to our child and adolescent behavioral health program or our inpatient autism programs for children and adolescents.