autism treatment services of canada - Occupational Therapy and Autistic Children
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Occupational Therapy and Autistic Children


Occupational Therapy and Autistic Children

What is Occupational Therapy (O.T.)?
O.T. is a health care service concerned with an individual's ability to function in everyday life activities and occupations that provide meaning to the individual's life. O.T. is important when an individual's ability to participate in and / or perform these tasks (e.g., self-care, work, going to school, play, social interaction and living independently), is affected or compromised by illness, disease, disability or disorder.

How Occupational Therapy Helps the Autistic Child
Children are assessed in terms of age-appropriate life tasks. Occupational Therapy addresses areas that interfere with the child's ability to function in such life tasks. O.T. may be provided to children in the form of play activities which are used to enhance or maintain play, self-help and school-readiness skills. O.T. consultation is warranted when functioning in these areas is significantly compromised.

Occupational Therapy benefits a child with autism by attempting to improve the quality of life for the individual through successful and meaningful experiences. This may be accomplished through the maintenance, improvement, or introduction of skills necessary for the child to participate as independently as possible in meaningful life activities. Such skills include coping skills, fine motor skills, self-help skills, socialization and play skills.

Occupational Therapists use a variety of theories and treatment approaches when providing services. Such approaches may include: developmental theories, learning theory, model of occupational performance, sensory integration, play theories and others. The choice of therapeutic methods depends upon the specific needs of the individual child and the Occupational Therapist's background. Many O.T.'s choose to employ a combination of approaches to meet those specific needs.

Qualifications for Occupational Therapists
Occupational Therapists are university trained. Some complete a Bachelor's Degree program in Occupational Therapy, and many hold graduate degrees in O.T. or associated disciplines. Course work varies among schools, but programs include basic medical and social sciences, clinical sciences and professional courses. Programs also include supervised clinical fieldwork.

Canadian programs require completion of a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience before an individual is eligible to apply for membership in the Canadian Association. This theoretical and practical experience prepares Occupational Therapists to practice in the community and in medical treatment and educational settings. Provincial and national association membership and registration indicates that O.T.s have met the required educational standards.

Occupational Therapy plays an important role in overall program planning as a member of the interdisciplinary team providing consultation or direct services. Areas of focus include: posture and movement, bilateral skills, fine motor skills, preschool / school skills, self-help skills and sensory issues. O.T.s work with other team members to assist the individual child to maximize his or her potential in a meaningful and satisfying way.


For more information please contact us at atsc@autism.ca or by telephone at (403) 253-6961.


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Web page maintained by Laura de Boer.
Last updated February 2006.