The purpose of occupational therapy for children and young people with autism is to help the them achieve or maintain their maximum level of independence and to develop practical life skills so that they can participate to their full potential in the home and classroom environment. Interventions will always occur in partnership with the person’s family or teaching team and within naturalistic environments.

Occupational therapy assessment and interventions for children and young people with autism

The occupational therapist assesses the child or young person through observation of functional activities in different settings, including play, school activities and undertaking everyday life skills, such as dressing. At times, standardised assessment can also be used to clarify the causes for the difficulties experienced by the individual. Liaison with parents and other professionals already involved in the person’s care is crucial to the success of the interventions. Interventions are always client and family-centred and at times delivered in conjunction with other professionals such as speech and language therapists, teachers or clinical psychologists.

Assessments and interventions can explore the following areas:

  • participation in productive school activities in relation to functional tasks such as handwriting, using tools and materials in the classroom for different lessons, using scissors, access to a computer and other technology equipment
  • self-care and functional skills, ie feeding, dressing, toileting, general hygiene tasks, participation in other school routines, etc
  • participation in leisure and play activities, ie taking part in sports and games, using playground equipment, developing a range play skills and riding a bike
  • sensory processing differences, eg child engaging in excessive spinning, rocking or avoiding touch
  • assessment and provision of additional equipment that might facilitate participation in day to day activities, ie adapted cutlery, laptop computer with specialist software or apps, equipment to aid sensory regulation, etc

The exact nature and amount of intervention provided will depend on the person’s needs. It could be in the form of:

direct coaching or ‘modelling’ sessions, delivered individually or as part of a group situation, with a defined period of time prior to review
use of home and school programmes and strategies to integrate intervention activities into real life situations
regular review or monitoring of the child’s progress (within a limited time-frame)
consultation and training for school staff and parents
the occupational therapists also participate in the delivery of the NAS Early Bird, Early Bird Plus and Cygnets programmes for families and school staff. For further information about these programmes, please visit the National Autistic Society website.

Where do occupational therapists for children and young people with autism work in Camden?

  • autism units/specialist educational provisions, such as the ones at Netley School, Kentish Town School, Langtry Nursery, Gospel Oak, 1A Children’s Centre, and other specialist autism providers
  • special schools such as Swiss Cottage School
  • mainstream schools in north and south Camden
  • Camden nurseries
  • Royal Free Hospital and Kentish Town Health Centre