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Occupational Therapy Practitioners Identify Early Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Help Families Participate In Daily Routines
Date:4/1/2009

hnique of interviewing their parents may add important information to help families understand and better respond to the needs of their children, thereby easing challenges in daily routines.

“The physician is responsible for determining the diagnosis of autism. The occupational therapy practitioner can provide valuable input to the physician and the family during this assessment phase,” said Sandra Schefkind, MS, OTR/L, pediatric coordinator of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Jackson says that the mere presence of signs or indicators does not necessarily indicate an ASD diagnosis but instead signifies to an occupational therapy practitioner that the child may benefit from further evaluation and services. She described the four categories, noting that the areas are interrelated and can affect one another:

  • Socialization: The individual may have difficulty understanding how to initiate contact with other people and thus has difficulty forming and maintaining relationships. They often have poor eye contact and appear disinterested or disengaged from snuggling, hugging or touching.
  • Communication: The individual may have limited conversational skills. They may repeat parts of sentences without apparent regard for content and meaning. They may have difficulty initiating and sustaining conversations and with the back-and-forth sharing of ideas.
  • Behavior: The individual may focus on very minute details, and demonstrate an inability to transition to new situations or changes in routine. They can become very focused on specific toys or objects but show limited interest in people.
  • Sensory: They may exhibit “self-stimulating” behaviors (e.g., spinning, rocking), which could indicate either over- or under-sensitivities to the senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and
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