Occupational Therapy using Sensory Integration can improve daily life for Autistic Children

ClothesSensitivityResearchers led by Neuroscientist Roseann Schaaf, have found that the use of Occupation Therapy together with Sensory Integration (OT-SI) can provide better outcomes for children on the autistic spectrum than ordinary standard care.

OT-SI therapy for Autism is based on the child’s difficulties interpreting sensory information and how these difficulties impact on everyday life and daily activities. For example the child may have difficulties with textures of food and dressing. Typical sensations can often feel uncomfortable and distressing for children with Autism.

Neuroscientist Roseann Schaaf, the lead investigator on the study, and colleagues used sensory integration strategies to identify the sensory difficulties that the child was having and to then devise strategies to help them, through the use of play.

The Times of India article is quoted as saying:

“One goal identified by parents was for their child to take a shower without becoming distressed and exhibiting overly disruptive behaviours. Whereas this behaviour would be treated by a behavioural therapist by providing rewards for incremental increases in time spent in the shower, an occupational therapist would assess whether there were any sensory factors affecting this activity”.

In this particular situation the occupational therapist would ‘assess the child’s ability to tolerate the water hitting their skin, or managing the auditory, visual, tactile, and olfactory sensations during the shower, as well as whether the child was managing their body sensations—called proprioception—and use that information to design specific activities that address these difficulties’.

The study is published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

The original article on the Times of India website can be read here