Global News

December 26, 2012

Occupational therapy, autism and tactics of self-regulation

Brian Field

Occupational Therapy, or “OT,” is frequently incorporated into autism therapy regimens to help, among other things, stimulate a balance between the body and mind that can help focus the child. For example, a child may be easily distracted while sitting in a regular classroom chair. When the chair is replaced by a large exercise ball and the child now needs to maintain his balance while sitting, the child’s mind becomes more attuned – focused in part on balancing, more aware of the environment around him, and able to concentrate and focus on other learning.

Exposure to OT and developing awareness to self-regulate one’s body and the body-mind connection can help children – and adults – focus when distracted, and energize oneself when feeling depleted. For younger children, talking about one’s body as an “engine” that’s performing slowly, or “hot/too much energy” is a good visual to use. The following are some OT tactics that can help get your child (or you) out of a “hot zone” and into a calmer physical-mental state.

“On high” at home: too much energy and running all over the house? Some ways to ground yourself are animal walking, learning a few simple yoga postures to do, stopping and taking a few deep breaths.

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