How Occupational Therapy and Speech Language Pathology Services Support Children with Autism
Autism is a condition that can impact all areas of life from childhood to adulthood. Occupational therapists are providers that are specially trained to work with individuals of all ages by supporting active participation in meaningful occupations. Meaningful occupations include self-care, instrumental or complex activities of daily living, education, work, play, leisure, social participation, rest and sleep.
Speech language pathologists (SLP) are specially trained to support areas of communication including the use of speech, gestures, symbols or augmentative/alternative means of communication to express wants/needs/feelings. They also focus on receptive language skills (understanding language) and social-pragmatic communication skills. Each of these areas can be uniquely affected in the life of a child with Autism.
Wayne UNC Health Care recognizes the importance of identifying needs and setting specific goals for individualized intervention to support the individual with Autism across the lifespan in living a fulfilling life.
What to Expect During Therapy
Your journey will begin with an initial evaluation by one of our pediatric occupational therapists and/or speech language pathologists.
Each evaluation, occupational and speech therapy, lasts approximately 60 minutes and includes parent and child interviews, observation, standardized assessments and questionnaires. Upon completion, your therapist(s) will review results and make recommendations for an individualized treatment plan including working with you to set functional goals.
Occupational therapy (OT) goals are related to development of play skills, social skills, motor skills, performing self-care tasks, using a sensory diet, developing body awareness, regulating sensory input, improving safety awareness, modifying tasks and environments, developing schedules and improving self-feeding. OT treatment sessions typically occur one to two times per week or as a consultation one to two times per month, each lasting about 45 minutes.
Speech therapy goals are related to improving play skills, communication abilities, social skills and behavior management. Often, when indicated, the SLP and the OT will work closely together to focus on maximizing functional progress during therapy, with goals to carry over new skills into the community or school setting. Speech therapy treatment sessions typically occur once or twice per week for about 30 minutes per session.
Our clinic uses a holistic, person-centered approach providing direct services in the clinic, guiding caregivers to available resources, facilitating collaboration and advocating for individual needs and developing strong home activity programs to support progress toward individual goals. Treatment sessions are geared to the needs of the patient often incorporating play and fun so you child won’t even realize how hard they are working!
Many of our therapists employ specialized programs including:
- Social Participation, Sensory Organization and Learning: The Alert Program, Social stories, Therapeutic Listening, Wilbarger Therapeutic Brushing , Zones of Regulation, Structured Work Systems
- Feeding: Beckman Oral Motor program, The Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding
- Motor skills: Learning Without Tears, Brain Gym
- Play skills: Floor-time
- Communication: Hanen programs, augmentative and alternative communication, baby sign, Social Thinking, PECS, play-based therapy
For more information on SLP or OT or to request an evaluation, please contact Wayne UNC Rehabilitation Services at 919-731-6005.