SEARCH Accessibility

Common Therapies for Children with Autism

Oct 23rd, 2018 | by Lisa Murphy OTD, OTR/L, SWC

Lisa Murphy OTD, OTR/L, SWC

October 23rd, 2018

Pediatric Therapy Options for Children with Autism

At NAPA Center, we work closely with children with autism by providing engaging individualized therapy sessions to help them reach their full potential. This blog provides an overview of some beneficial autism therapy programs, including occupational therapy (OT), physical therapy (PT), speech therapy, feeding therapy, and other techniques such as sensory integration. We hope you find this information helpful. If you have a child or loved one on the spectrum seeking pediatric therapy, the NAPA team is here to help.

The incidence of autism is on the rise with roughly 1 in 68 children in the United States diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This life-changing diagnosis has implications not only for the individual diagnosed with the disorder, but also their family.  While there is currently no cure for ASD, early detection and intervention to treat symptoms ranging from mild to severe is paramount for maximizing a child’s full potential.  With many autism therapy options out there, it may be difficult to decide which treatment might work best for your child. While every child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is unique with their own unique needs, these are some of the common therapies for autistic children.

How Can Occupational Therapy Help a Child with Autism?

Occupational therapists utilize various strategies to help maximize an autistic 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

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder 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 ASD 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.  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 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 for Autistic Children

Speech deficits and impaired social skills make it difficult for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder 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.

Feeding Therapy

Feeding and swallowing disorders are 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. Learn more: How Does Feeding Therapy Work?

Physical Therapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Children on the autism spectrum with low muscle tone may experience limitations in physical development. Physical therapists can support autistic children in acquiring motor skills, increasing fitness and stamina, developing better posture, and improving coordination. Learn more: Benefits of Pediatric Physical Therapy

Using Weighted Vests as a Tool in Autism Therapeutic Services

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

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy

ABA therapists use behavioral principles applied to everyday situations to help a child with ASD either increase or decrease targeted behaviors.  They are trained to help your child progress by assisting your child in learning new skills, shaping and refining previously learned skills or behaviors, and helping your child decrease socially problematic behaviors. They may accomplish this by implementing one or more of the following behavioral techniques:

  • Pivotal Response Training (PRT) – focuses on building up your child’s motivation to learn, acknowledge their own behavior, and improving your child’s ability to initiate verbal interactions with others.
  • Discrete Trial Training (DTT) – teaches new skills or correct behavior to your child by breaking them down step-by-step. This will allow your child to learn in the simplest manner possible. Rewards are usually given for each correct answer or action in each step.
  • Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) – specifically for children with autism under the age of five.
  • Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI) – aims to help your child learn and develop verbal skills.

About NAPA Center

In addition to hosting intensive pop-up sessions worldwide, NAPA also serves local families from our Los Angeles, Boston, and Sydney clinics by providing industry-leading SLP, PT, and OT techniques. At NAPA Center, we take an individualized approach to therapy 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. If you think your child or loved one may benefit from NAPA pediatric therapy services, please feel free to reach out. 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. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.

TAGS: Blogs
Skip to content