What is autism?

Autism is a developmental disability that affects the way a person is able to process social and communication information. This affects your child’s ability to:

• Be reciprocal with others – ranging from failure to initiate or respond to social interactions to challenges with approaching others in a “normal way” or inability to take turns in conversation
• Understand and use verbal (what is spoken) and non-verbal (body language and facial expressions) – ranging from issues with eye contact to inability to understand or use gestures to a total lack of facial expressions and non-verbal communication.
• Make, keep and understand relationships – ranging from inability to change behaviour according to context, sharing imaginative play or in making friends to an absence of interest in peers.

Children with Autism will also often show:

• Stereotyped or repetitive behaviour
• Insistence on sameness, excessive need for routine, lack of flexibility or ritualistic verbal and non-verbal behaviour
• Highly restricted or fixated interests that are abnormally intense or focused on (e.g. Thomas the tank engine fixations to the point where it is hard to engage with child when playing with these).
• Over-sensitive or undersensitive to sensory environment or show an unusual interest in sensory aspects of environment. Autism QLD website

What approach does Kids Matters Occupational Therapy offer for autism?

Full assessment of children’s individual differences in sensory processing, learning, motor skills, play, organization and planning, behaviour, regulation and life tasks and how this affects his or her ability to function at home, school and in the community.

For adults with autism, we do at the same factors for their individual adult context:

DIR/Floor-time based treatments for deficits in the functional emotional developmental levels including:
• Sensory Integration based treatments for any sensory processing issues.
• Improvement of social interaction – regulation, engagement and reciprocal or 2-way communication
• Improvement of problem-solving
• Improvement of Symbolic play / Imagination skills
• Supporting to understand feelings
• Supporting the connecting of ideas so they make sense to others (Bridging and sequencing ideas)
• Supporting higher level reasoning such as expanding black and white thinking and reflection

Specific structured learning interventions as required including:

• Improvement of motor skills
• Improvement of life skills such as toileting, dressing and handwriting
• Improvement of education/ learning skills
• Any other goals
• Parent/ carer training, education and support.