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Common Autism Therapies for Children at NAPA Center

Oct 23rd, 2022 | by Lisa Murphy OTD, OTR/L, SWC

Lisa Murphy OTD, OTR/L, SWC

October 23rd, 2022

Pediatric Therapy for Autism at NAPA Center

At NAPA Center, we take an individualized approach to autism therapies because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. We embrace differences with an understanding that individualized programs work better. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike and we offer multidisciplinary treatments integrating physical, occupational, speech, and feeding therapy.

NAPA pediatric therapists use a diverse set of innovative tools and therapies delivered through intensive and weekly programs. These programs are customized specifically for each child based on their needs, and provided at our centers, in a playful and positive environment.

Which Therapies for Autism Are Best For My Child?

While there is currently no cure for autism, early detection and intervention to treat symptoms ranging from mild to severe is paramount for maximizing a child’s full potential. With many autism therapies out there, it may be difficult to decide which treatment might work best for your child. In this blog post, we provide an overview of weekly and intensive therapy options for autism. 

Jump Ahead:


Intensive Therapy

At NAPA Center, we use the Intensive Model of Therapy (IMOT) when treating children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders. This treatment model is increasingly used throughout the world as patients, therapists, and doctors recognize it’s many benefits and outstanding results. NAPA therapists create a customized program for each patient that varies in time, duration, intensity, and tools used. Children often advance to the next developmental skill or higher during the three-week program.

Occupational Therapy

Pediatric occupational therapists utilize various strategies to help maximize the child’s independence with daily tasks such as writing in school, playing, getting dressed, using utensils, and cutting with scissors. With an emphasis on areas such as fine motor development, hand-eye coordination, and sensory integration, an occupational therapist will analyze task demands and help address the skills needed for children with autism to succeed.  

  • Related Reading: NAPA OT shares the most important lessons she has learned from working with autistic children

Sensory Integration Therapy for Autism

Children with autism often display sensory processing difficulties. Sensory processing is how an individual registers and makes sense of incoming sensory input from the environment such as sound, touch, taste, and vision. Common sensory processing difficulties seen in children with autism include sensitivity to sound, touch, or light—which results in unwanted behaviors like tantrums, or avoiding age-appropriate play when exposed to too much of these sensations. Visit our related blog post, Sensory Behaviors Explained, to learn more. 

Occupational therapists often use advanced training in sensory integration to understand which areas of sensory processing may be difficult for your child, and will devise treatment plans to improve how your child reacts, interprets, and copes with environmental sensory information.

If the occupational therapist decides your child will benefit from vibration therapy, the Whole Body Vibration is one of many techniques that may be used in your child’s therapy regime.

Speech Therapy

Speech deficits and impaired social skills make it difficult for children with autism to communicate. A speech therapist will address underlying issues causing your child’s speech difficulties and may utilize a variety of tools to assist your child in expressing themselves. A speech therapist may implement a picture exchange communication system, teach your child sign language, or assist your child with accessing a communication device in order to help them communicate more effectively.

Physical Therapy

Pediatric physical therapists can support children with autism in acquiring motor skills, increasing fitness and stamina, developing better posture, and improving coordination. For children with autism, physical therapists typically work on general strengthening in activities that are more difficult for them, as well as addressing stretching, primarily of their calves.

Additionally, since ASD is a spectrum, the child’s physical presentation can vary drastically from having increased tone which can cause tip-toe walking, to decreased/low muscle tone and walking either with flattened feet or compensating by going up onto their tiptoes to walk. Even if tip toe walking is a compensation for their lower tone, it is important to not lose any muscle length so that they can still fully participate in a variety of activities.

Feeding Therapy

Feeding and swallowing disorders can sometimes occur in children on the autism spectrum. At NAPA, we offer developmental and intensive feeding therapy for autistic children, targeting concerns with feeding aversions, sensory related feeding challenges, and swallowing disorders.

Using Weighted Vests as a Tool During Pediatric Therapy for Autism

When necessary, therapists may use weighted vests within therapy for autism as they see fit. Some of the potential benefits of weighted vests for autism are:

  • Decreased hyperactivity
  • Improved body awareness
  • Less feelings of anxiety
  • More feelings of calmness
  • Increased concentration and focus


Autism Therapies for Children, In Conclusion

As the presentations globally are different for each child with autism, they may only need physical, occupational, feeding or speech therapy, or all of the above. When working with children with autism, our pediatric therapist’s typically utilize a schedule to help with completing each task as well as potential sensory breaks to assist with their emotional regulation and participation in each task.

Discover How NAPA Can Help Your Child

If you are seeking pediatric therapy for autism, schedule a free 30-minute screening with a NAPA therapist to discover how NAPA can help your child.

Find Additional Resources in the NAPA Blog:


About NAPA Center

NAPA Center provides intensive and weekly pediatric therapy for children at our multiple clinic locations worldwide. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals.

TAGS: Blogs, Feeding, OT, PT, SLP
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