What is Autism:
Occupational Therapy’s Perspective

By Tracy Corado, OTAS

Philadelphia University

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What is autism? Parents, teachers, or family physicians may notice developmental shortcomings after a child’s first few years of life. Autism may be the diagnosis.

This disorder impedes on a person’s ability to control certain functions of the brain, most commonly verbal and social interactions(Scott, 2011, para. 1). What is autism? Specific signs of autism include absence of imaginative play, lack of eye contact, not relating emotionally to people close to them, rejecting physical affection, and being overly repetitive while trying to get their point across to others (“Autism Spectrum Disorders”, 2010).

It is estimated that between 10-15 children out of every 10,000 could be diagnosed with autism, with no biological testing that can prove or detect the disorder (Clark, et al, 2008, p. 1). Cases can range from mild to severe, and “they communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most people (“Autism Spectrum Disorders”, 2010, para. 1).

“Current treatments include pharmacological therapies and various complementary therapies including diet modifications, vitamin therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and behavioral and developmental approaches” (Clark, et al, 2008, p. 2).

Occupational therapists can play an important role in the autism patient’s life; as well as those who take care of the individual and educate them. Interventions created by an occupational therapist, following a clinical evaluation, use a combination of life skill development and rehabilitation exercise to enhance the patient’s day to day living (Scott, 2011, para. 7). An Occupational Therapy Assistant would carry out these regimens at their clinic, at the patient’s home, or educational establishment. Treatment integrates physical and emotional skills into the patient dealing with autism’s life. It takes the support and education of everyone around them, taking steps towards better dealing with and continuously learning about the disorder.

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