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How Occupational Therapy can support your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Occupational Therapy? 

Occupational Therapy (OT) is a health profession that supports people of all ages to participate in meaningful everyday activities. Occupational Therapists work collaboratively with families to help find solutions to barriers that may be impacting an individual’s engagement in activities they need or want to do.  

At Kinark, our OT services are geared towards helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) develop skills to successfully engage in activities and reach important milestones needed for everyday tasks. For children with ASD, OT can support independence in key areas of daily functions, including: 

  • Self-help skills such as dressing, eating, brushing teeth, toileting and tying shoelaces. 
  • School readiness such as holding a pencil, printing, using scissors, colouring as well as regulating emotions and attention throughout the day to learn and socialize. 
  • Play and leisure including developing the motor and social skills for children to participate in activities they enjoy. 

You can learn more about our Occupational Therapy service on our website

What can you expect from an OT assessment at Kinark? 

OT assessments specialize in sensory processing, self-regulation, fine motor, gross motor, and functional skills. The structure of the assessment depends on the areas of concern identified by each family. Kinark offers two types of OT assessments:

Standard Assessment 

This assessment is best suited for a single area of concern. It includes: 

  • One-hour in person assessment 
  • A 45-minute virtual feedback session to review findings, recommendations and treatment planning 
  • Summary report 

Comprehensive Assessment 

This assessment is best suited for more than one area of concern. It includes: 

  • A 45-minute virtual parent intake  
  • One-hour in person assessment 
  • A 45-minute virtual feedback session to review findings, recommendations and treatment planning 
  • Detailed report with recommendations 

What does a typical OT treatment session involve? 

Following an assessment for your child, we offer individual treatment sessions to support their skill development. Since children learn best through play, these sessions incorporate a variety of play-based activities to help them achieve their goals.  

Sensory based strategies may also be explored as part of the session to support children’s attention and regulation using sensorimotor equipment . These sessions are 50 minutes in length with parent coaching included to support the implementation of strategies at home.  

Get started by booking a consultation with our team. Complete our consultation form here.  

Meet Kinark’s Occupational Therapist, Sarah! 

Sarah de Almeida is a registered Occupational Therapist with over 10 years of experience working with children, youth, and adults with ASD. She has worked as an Occupational Therapist in school, the community, specialized pediatric clinics, and primary care. She was also part of the Developmental Assessment and Consultation Services Team providing diagnostic assessments for children with ASD.  

Sarah has completed additional training in feeding therapy, sensory based interventions, Handwriting Without Tears, and social-emotional learning through programs such as Social Thinking, Zones of Regulation, and the Alert Program. When she is not working at Kinark, Sarah enjoys crafting, Zumba and cooking new recipes!  

She is thrilled to be part of the Kinark Autism Services team and the growing Occupational Therapy program! 

Sarah de Almeida
Occupational Therapist,
Kinark Autism Services

Top tips from our Occupational Therapist to support skill building at home 

  1. Build independence: Help your child learn self-care tasks, like dressing and brushing teeth, by breaking down the individual steps and working the steps backwards with your child, adding on more steps as they are able. Use visuals, such as picture sequences, checklists or videos, to help your child understand the steps involved.  
  1. Establish routines: Use a visual schedule to create consistent daily routines, starting with regular times for eating and sleeping. Don’t forget to include free play and outdoor time. Watch our Kinark Kreates video on DIY Visual Schedules to learn how to create one for your child.  
  1. Fine motor development: To develop your child’s fine motor skills, including pencil grasp, use small writing utensils or broken pieces of crayon or chalk when printing, colouring and drawing. 
  1. Self-regulation: To help your child learn about emotions, work on identifying and labelling the emotions of others when reading books and watching television or movies. You can also set up a special space in your home where your child can retreat to when they are upset or angry. 
  1. Sensory lifestyle: Engage in heavy work activities throughout the day for a calming effect on your child’s nervous system. Heavy work pushes or pulls against the body and includes activities such as tug of war, jumping jacks or holding yoga poses. To manage sensory sensitivities, adapting the environment so noise, bright lights and visual distractions are reduced can support the sensory system as well.  

Our team is here to support you when finding the services that are right for your child and family. For one-on-one service navigation support, request a service consultation with our team of Family Support Workers. 

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