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Occupational Therapy

Autism - ASD - ABA Therapy - AG Behavioral Services - Edgewater, NJ - girl staff

Occupational therapy, alongside speech and physical therapy, is a prevalent therapy offered in clinical settings. Occupational therapists aim to enhance various skills in children, including but not limited to:

  • Tooth brushing
  • Play activities (e.g., throwing a ball, swinging)
  • Handwriting
  • Sensory integration (visual, tactile, auditory)
  • Painting with a brush
  • Zipping jackets
  • Tying shoelaces

To assess a child’s functional abilities, occupational therapists use established evaluation tools such as the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). Other assessment tools include:

  • School Function Assessment (SFA)
  • Children’s Assessment of Participation and Enjoyment/Preference for Activities of Children (CAPE/PAC)
  • Assessment of Life Habits (Life-H) for Children
  • Movement Assessment Battery for Children— Second Edition (Movement ABC2)
  • Bruininks Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition (BOT-2)
  • Sensory Processing Measure
  • Sensory Profile School Companion
  • Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT)

Therapists often observe children in various settings to understand how they manage everyday tasks and react to sensory stimuli like bright lights, loud noises, or strong odors.

Based on these evaluations and observations, therapists develop personalized goals tailored to each child’s specific needs and functional level. Goals may focus on personal hygiene, life skills, academic achievements, or social interaction abilities.

A common recommendation by occupational therapists is to start the day with a sensory circuit. This is a sensory-motor activity program designed to prepare children for learning by activating all senses. Sensory circuits can energize or help children settle into their day, consisting of:

  1. Alerting Activities: Activities like spinning, bouncing on a gym ball, skipping, and star jumps to stimulate the central nervous system.
  2. Organizing Activities: These activities, such as balancing on a wobble board, log rolling, or juggling, require coordination between the brain and body.
  3. Calming Activities: Involving heavy muscle work and deep pressure (e.g., wall pushes, push-ups, using weights) to enhance body awareness and self-regulation of sensory input.

These activities help children become more regulated, calm, and focused, reducing anxiety and improving their ability to thrive and achieve in today’s challenging environment.

What does the CDC say about Autism?

The CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Click the boxes below to learn what the CDC says about ASD.

Identifying Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be challenging as it lacks a definitive medical test, such as a blood test, for diagnosis. Instead, physicians assess the child’s developmental and behavioral patterns to determine the presence of ASD.

ASD can potentially be identified as early as 18 months. By the age of 2, a diagnosis made by a skilled professional is generally regarded as highly dependable. Yet, a definitive diagnosis often comes much later for many children. This postponement in diagnosis can result in a delay in receiving early intervention, which is crucial for children with ASD.

At present, there is no known cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, studies indicate that early intervention treatments can significantly enhance a child’s developmental progress. These early intervention services are aimed at children from birth to 3 years of age (36 months), focusing on developing vital skills. They may encompass therapies to assist the child in developing speech, mobility, and social interaction capabilities. Consequently, if you suspect your child might have ASD or any developmental issues, it is crucial to consult with your child’s healthcare provider promptly.

Children who have not been formally diagnosed with ASD might still be eligible for early intervention treatments. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children younger than 3 years (36 months) who are potentially at risk of developmental delays can qualify for these services. These are available through an early intervention system in each state, where you can request an evaluation for your child.

Furthermore, specific symptom treatments, like speech therapy for language delays, often do not require a formal ASD diagnosis before beginning.

The full range of causes for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) remains unknown, but it is believed to arise from multiple sources, leading to various types of ASD. A combination of factors, including environmental, biological, and genetic influences, may increase a child’s likelihood of developing ASD.

It is widely accepted among experts that genetics play a key role as a risk factor in the development of ASD. The risk is higher for children who have a sibling diagnosed with ASD. Additionally, individuals with specific genetic or chromosomal disorders, like fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis, are more prone to developing ASD.

Certain medications prescribed during pregnancy, namely valproic acid and thalidomide, have been associated with a heightened risk of ASD. Research suggests that the critical window for the development of ASD is around the time before, during, and immediately after birth. Furthermore, children of older parents face an increased risk of ASD.

ASD remains a critical issue in public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with families impacted by ASD, are dedicated to uncovering the causes of this disorder. Gaining a deeper understanding of what predisposes an individual to ASD is crucial. To this end, the CDC is conducting one of the most extensive studies in the U.S., named the Study to Explore Early Development (SEED). This study investigates various potential risk factors for ASD, encompassing genetic, environmental, pregnancy-related, and behavioral factors.

ASD affects individuals across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, it is observed to be approximately four times more prevalent in boys than in girls.

For more than ten years, the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network has been tracking the prevalence of ASD among children in the United States. This monitoring has provided substantial insights into the number of U.S. children affected by ASD. Continuously employing these tracking methods over time is vital to understand the evolving trends and learn more about the nature of the disorder.


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