Autism- Occupational Therapy for Autism

WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism refers to a spectrum of disorders that affect the areas of the brain that control social behavior and communication skills. Some common symptoms of autism include the following: Sensory processing disorder (i.e., difficulties handling the information coming in from the senses: light, sounds, smells, touch, taste/texture), trouble transitioning from one environment or one person to another (people with autism like their schedules and do not like change!), trouble interacting with other people, trouble communicating, and difficulties with fine motor skills (e.g handwriting).
 
WHAT IS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY?
Occupational therapy focuses on a person’s activities of daily living (such as eating and getting dressed), safety in moving around in his environment, and his ability to participate in educational, home, play, and community settings.
An occupational therapist will use lots of fun activities to help a child with autism! This may include swinging, spinning, playing in a ball pit, wheelbarrow walking, ball toss games, listening to music, jumping, dancing, rolling on an exercise ball, being rolled up in a hammock, food play, writing in shaving cream, playing with Play-doh or putty, and more! In short, the occupational therapist will try to make each child’s therapy experiences as much fun as possible.
 
How Occupational Therapists Help Children with Autism spectrum disorder
A child with autism/ ASD may have deficits in the following areas: big or gross motor skills, small motor or fine motor skills, sensory processing difficulties, balance, coordination, delays in writing, self care, weak core muscles, poor posture and poor social skills. An Occupational Therapy evaluation is used to help identify these deficits in the child.

With a child who has autism, an occupational therapist works with parents, teachers, and other professionals as a team to set specific goals for that child. Such goals may target sensory processing, transitioning, limited diet, handwriting, school functioning skills and/or oral fixation. An occupational therapist can help a child with autism to modify his environment or activities to meet his needs or abilities. This may mean changing the child’s home or school environment to cut down on distractions or identifying and practicing skills he needs to successfully complete activities. An occupational therapist can also help a child learn strategies to limit or lessen the intensity of meltdowns caused by sensory overload or the inability to communicate effectively. A child with autism might also have difficulties with motor planning, meaning he has a hard time learning new skills. In this case, an occupational therapist can help the child with a variety of skills ranging from climbing playground equipment to tying his shoes.
 
 
 What are some therapy activities an occupational therapist may use? Below are some activities (more activities under sub sections of our blog, sub sections are named by skill)  that you could do at home to help facilitate the skills that are listed above. By doing these activities there is a increased likely hood of improving performance throughout your child’s daily routine. It is important that you vary the input throughout the day and the more input that they are given the better they will be at processing the additional input.
 
 
Gross Motor Skills  
The major goals of gross motor tasks is to involve the major muscle groups, identify the strengths of the autistic child, to address the sensory systems and develop motor skills. 
 
A few good activities to try include:
Tasks that promote jumping, climbing, skipping.
Doing animal walks such as bear walk, crab walk , army crawl.
Playing with ball – anticipating a catch, throwing, fielding, bouncing a ball etc
 
 
Fine Motor Skills  
 
The focus of fine motor activities is to promote increased hand strength, improve the various types of grips.
 
A few good activities to try include:
Stringing large beads onto a pipe cleaner or shoe lace
Picking up small items like pasta, beads with tweezers and dropping them into a box
Making shapes out of play dough or therapy putty. Ensure that your child uses the thumb and the first two fingers to promote good pre writing skills.
 
There are many more activities that you can refer to under fine motor category of this blog.
 
 
Sensory Processing and Modulation   Like most areas- children with autism will show a variety of deficits and delays. Sensory processing is something that is very child specific. The activities below may be very stimulating for one child while it may be extremely aversive to another child. Feel free to contact me to discuss how your child responds to various types of sensory input.
 
Texture play- Make a tub of mixed textures such as confetti, styrofoam balls, rice, beans and get the child to find hidden objects, finding hidden treasures in play dough, playing with shaving foam are some good activities to encourage texture play
 
Vestibular stimulation- Using various swings and varying the type of motion. Swinging can be carried out in back and forth motion or in a rotary motion ( e.g rotary play ground swings). Jumping on a trampoline and being pulled on a scooter board gives the child slow linear vestibular stimulation.
Proprioceptive input and heavy work–Carrying something heavy at home like a laundry basket, playing with heavy balls, jumping, crashing on thick crash mats, playing tug of war games. The above listed activities give proprioceptive input to the joints of the upper and lower limbs and child has to use his muscles to play these games.
Deep pressure– In these activities the input is placed upon the child. Giving massages to muscles, laying in a ball pool, playing gentle pillow fights all provide deep pressure input to the child.
 
 
Postural Control and Muscle Coordination  
Children with autism tend to have low muscle tone and poor core control. This may affect their gross and fine motor skills because they do not have a stable base of support to work from.
 
I have enlisted some of the activities that can help to strengthen the core for increased postural stability:
Lying prone on a therapy ball to do activities such as colouring
Doing the crab walk and wheelbarrow
Doing activities on a scooter board
Games played on a balance board
 
Self Care and School Tasks  
It has been noted anecdotally that when gross motor, fine motor, posture skills are all worked upon, it results in improved school functioning and improved performance in self-care tasks. However, when self care and school functioning skills ( such as handwriting) are individually worked upon it improves the child’s independence in these skill areas.
 
School tasks – such as Coloring, writing, cutting, sustaining attention during lessons.
Have the child sit on a ball chair as against a flat chair ( will work on his core strength), colouring while lying prone on a therapy ball, writing on a vertical board, making patterns with therapy putty before engaging in a writing task.
 
Self care tasks- Encourage independent feeding, prompt and cue to independently feed before you decide to feed the child.
 
Important take home messages
As therapists we prefer that the child chooses the activities thereby making the session ‘child directed’. This means that you allow the child to choose the game/ task but you can manipulate it to have therapeutic value/ goals. Use your imagination and be playful while having the goal to achieve in mind.
 
We would be happy to hear from you
We know that you always cant get to us. We offer virtual/online therapy sessions .
To schedule a discovery call with us , call us on 0091 95144 81180
 

Vestibular activity – with a household item ( Balloon)

Balloon Volleyball
Balloon Volleyball
Baloons are a good toy as they are colourful, light in weight and kids are attracted to them.
What are we aiming to achieve
Sustained Attention
Vestibular stimulation
Proprioceptive stimulation
Spatial awareness
Eye- hand coordination
Upper limb coorination
Use of both hands
Whats needed?
Home made bats from paper
Or Plastic bats
A few colourful balloons
How to play
A group leader throws the balloon towards a child. One child will use the bat to pass the balloon, whilst other kids can catch them with their hands, one kid can be the fielder and the other kids can be runners and so on.
What is the child learning Through this game
The child will learn how to stay focused on a task.
He will also learn social skills such as turn taking, waiting and group dynamics of playing in small groups.
Children are learning that the balloon moves at a different pace each time, their bodies have to move in accordance to the balloon and coordinate movements to match the balloons movement in space.
They also learn how to balance themselves as they look up to tap the balloons
When the child jumps to reach for a balloon he is getting proprioceptive input through the joints in his feet.
We conduct online tele therapy via Skype and phone if you cant get to us !
contact us on 0091 95144 81180

Archana The OT help! I am struggling with my homework

Homework and struggles with doing homework always comes up as a topic of discussion with me. Some of us forget to write down the homework topics at school, some of us are not organised, we don’t know where our homework books are, we don’t keep our writing tools in place to note down things in time. For some others amongst us we just don’t want to do it because it is boring, long and difficult. Here are some quick tips to solve your homework problems.

1. Once you come home tell your parents about where you will be doing the homework and at what time you will be reviewing it with your parents.

2. Take some rest breaks between homework. If you feel like you want to take a break like use the bathroom or you feel a bit restless take a movement break. You can do some trampoline jumps carry out animal walks like bear walk, wheelbarrow walk and so on.

3. Do homework in segments then the quality of homework is likely to be great.

4. Start early: If you have been given a large assignment start planning as well as doing your work many days before your deadline.

5. Break up big pieces of assignments into small pieces of work: If you have a large assignment to do, break it up into say 3 or 4 parts. After you complete each part do something fun like ball games, hopscotch and so on.

5. Plan before time: Ask your parent to draw a monthly planner for you. Once you come from school write down things like : on a Thursday I am going to do my Maths homework.

Here is a list for you to follow and tick. Print this and paste it in your study area. Happy home working !

1. I come home and have a snack
2. I take out my homework book and check my homework
3. I decide where to sit and do my homework and at what time I will do it with my parent
4. I organize my homework station and clean up any mess
5. I take pens, pencils and books to do my homework and sit down to work
6. I take a movement break in-between my work
7. I return back to finishing my homework
8. I put my homework in my school bag for tomorrow
9. I review and tell my parents all that I have done so far
10. I show this check list to my parents
11. I get to school and take out my homework book to my teachers .

If you would like to schedule a discovery call with us please call us on 0091 95144 81180

Help! My child is not able to manage her anger and has tantrums

Why may your child be getting angry:

I am going to focus todays topic on children who have difficulty managing emotions such as anger. Neurotypical children and children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, Tourettes typically tend to get angry at times.

Here are certain possible causes for what makes your child angry:

The child may not be getting what he or she wants
The child may be asked to do something that they don’t want to do
Some children may lack social skills such as kids with ADHD and maybe bullied at school
Some other kids may be so disorganised that they forget their homework, get called out in class and eventually get stressed.

I am going to give you certain tips that I use at my clinic to manage anger and help children regulate their emotions.

1. Get your Childs vestibular system working. When we invert our heads for short periods of time in the day like a few seconds we regulate and organise our nervous system. Hanging upside down from monkey bars, trees and a sofa is very calming on the nervous system and can help calm an angry child.

2. Take a magazine and cut out faces of people with different emotions such as anger, sadness, happy faces and calm face. Ask your child questions such as which one of these faces represent anger/ sadness/ joy. Identifying their own emotions helps children to label and identify their friends and other peoples emotions too. This is a good starting point for children to know when and how to approach another person when they express different emotions. It also helps a child recognise the point at which they get angry.

3. Ask the children what makes them angry or upset?
What do they do when they feel angry or upset?
How do they stop being angry or calm themselves down?

4. Practise mindfulness with your children everyday. Ask your child to take 5 deep in breaths every time they get angry. This can be started in children as young as three years of age.

5. Make two cards for your child. In one card write down, ‘When I am angry I can sing a song’, In another write down, ‘When I am angry I can remember a happy time, like the visit to the beach/ fun park’. Put these cards in their pocket everyday. Ask them to reach out to these cards and read them every time that they get angry.