Ari* is a 7 year old with a diagnosis of autism (ASD), who was referred to our clinic for occupational therapy evaluation. His pediatrician recommended our clinic since we specialize in treatment of children with ASD and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. His parents were concerned that Ari had sensory, fine motor and attention deficits that were impacting his ability to progress in many areas.
The occupational therapist had the parents complete a comprehensive medical and developmental case history addressing medical history, motor milestones, activities of daily living, social and play skills. They were also asked to complete a reinforcer profile to assist the therapist with choosing the best activities for Ari. Ari’s mother also completed a Sensory Profile 2. The purpose of this standardized profile is to evaluate sensory processing patterns in the context of everyday life and use this information to determine how those patterns may interfere with the ability to participate in typical situations. So for instance, Ari’s profile revealed he had difficulty with loud noises, so this leads to behavior challenges in loud restaurants. Ari’s profile suggested definite differences with auditory processing, vestibular processing, touch processing, and modulation related to all of these areas.
The Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition (BOT-2) is a standardized test that measures a wide array of motor skills. Ari completed subtests for fine motor control, manual coordination composite, and body coordination composite. He had challenges with this assessment due to poor comprehension of the tasks and difficulty with attention, resulting in low standardized scores. The therapist was able to evaluate many skills through clinical observation and play activities ascertaining this non-standardized method revealed a more accurate picture of Ari’s abilities. Children on the autism spectrum frequently have difficulty with standardized assessments but these measures often yield important information and meaningful scores for comparison over time.
Ari’s treatment plan targeted improved motor planning for greater success with fine motor, gross motor, and play and self-care activities. His treatment plan also targeted improvement in sensory processing skills as needed for effective participation in gross/fine motor and self-help skills. The therapist also included the family in each treatment session to teach strategies and activities to address Ari’s needs in home and community environments. Environmental adaptions such as a sensory diet, using earphones in loud environments, and simple visuals were recommended as part of his treatment plan.
Ari is also receiving speech therapy services, so the occupational therapist and speech language pathologist collaborate regularly about ways to help Ari meet his greatest potential. Ari loves coming to therapy, since it is play based and incorporates many high interest reinforcers to keep him moving towards his goals. He has met many of his treatment plan objectives over the past 6 months! His parents are happy with his progress and appreciate the consistent input and strategies the therapist provides to help generalize success.
*The name has been changed for confidentiality