Documentation: Intervention for Children with Autism
Children with autism are unaware of their surroundings. They may also fail to respond to the sights and sounds of a social world. Often, with limited speech and language skills, the child follows a different development pattern compared to other children in the same age group. They have difficulty playing with other children and making friends. They engage in restricted, repetitive behavior that is hard to understand.
Many children with autism have problems with motor skills or issues with their senses. In sensory integration therapy, occupational therapists work with children to stabilize their senses and their reactions to external stimuli. This therapy can help children gain better control over their bodies, and therefore can reduce clumsiness, instability and hand-eye coordination. Sensory Integration therapy can also reduce anxiety in children with autism by improving their responses to particular sounds or touches. When children have better control of their senses, they are better able to control their movements, sounds, and emotions. This leads to reduced awkwardness and improved social skills.
Our Division SpEd Coordinator, Mrs. Elsa L. Gella believed that these children need an intervention to be independent, to improve their skills and quality of their lives. The intervention for children with autism was conducted by the licensed occupational therapist Mr. Michael Joseph G. Alejandria, OTRP, ROT also known as Teacher Mike. It was held at Kanlungan ng Pag-asa Pinaglabanan SpEd Center last October 6, 2015-November 10, 2015 every Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9am-12nn (10 sessions). Ten students with autism from Pinaglabanan SpEd Center and Kabayanan SpEd Center, parents of the SpEd children, teachers from Pinaglabanan SpEd Center (Ms. Joanne L. Gella and Ms. Kathryn Clare Ligunas) and Kabayanan SpEd Center (Mr. Salvador Payong and Ms. Banny Joyce Trinidad) participated in the said activities.
Teacher Mike demonstrates the occupational therapy exercises/ mat exercises focus on developing skills that encourage independence in everyday activities. He discussed that play is a very important aspect of this type of intervention for children as they learn many skills including social, communication, and self-help techniques. Engaging children with autism in play activities requiring motor skills and interaction can be useful in speech therapy as well.
Moreover, He taught us that children with autism often have a great deal of difficulty processing sensory input. This interferes with the ability to perform well and stay on task. Some OT exercises include multi-sensory approaches to address sensory problems while developing self-help skills in the process. These exercises are gross motor activities (run, walk, turn around, skip, hop etc.), processing movement/vestibular (trampoline, swing, slide etc.) and balance/proprioceptive (sit on an exercise ball, balance beam, stand on one foot, etc.). Additionally, the development of fine motor skills is crucial to an individual's ability to perform well on daily living tasks. Occupational therapy for children with autism includes many activities that develop deliberate muscle movements in the hands. These activities require attention and hand-eye coordination like drawing, coloring, form puzzles, stacking blocks, spooling beads, manipulating clay, playing musical instruments, buttoning/unbuttoning etc. Some of the fine motor activities address brain development as well.
Furthermore, he also demonstrates and discussed about the activities of daily living (ADL) that children with autism should be independent and train them to develop the skills necessary to function in home and work environments focus on their self-help skills such as dressing, grooming/ hygiene, feeding, and toileting/bathing.
After he cited all the activities, the parents and SpEd teachers shared their observation and ideas about the development and other concerns to the needs of their children. All the participants are very thankful that they trained well to handle and fully understand the needs of these children. Lastly, the intervention for children with autism was successfully done. These activities were sponsored by Rotary Club San Juan East.
Article written by:
Joanne L. Gella
SpEd Teacher / Teacher I