The short answer is YES, and here’s why!

With the rise of digital health services, online occupational therapy has become a viable option for many individuals including those with Autism.  

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex development condition with challenges in social interaction, communication, sensory processing and restricted/repetitive behaviors. There is a wide range of severity among individuals and the effects of ASD vary greatly. ASD is by nature a neurological disorder that interferes with many life routines.  

Online occupational therapy eliminates the need for travel, which can be beneficial to individuals with autism and sensory sensitivities or anxiety related to commuting. 

Online occupational therapy sessions can be scheduled more flexibly during the times of day that the individual is engaging in their daily routines.  This reduces disruption to the daily schedule and improves overall effectiveness of therapy.  

Receiving therapy in a familiar and controlled environment, such as the home, can help reduce stress and enhance participation. 

The home setting allows therapists to work with individuals in their natural environment, tailoring interventions to real-life scenarios and using equipment and objects that are familiar to the individual.   Using objects that are familiar to the individual during routine activities like mealtimes, school preparation, and leisure or play increases the carryover aspect of therapy.  

Online occupational therapy will include parent coaching and active involvement from parents, participants and caregivers.  This provides opportunities for others to learn strategies and techniques to support development and growth.  

Collaboration between therapists, clients and caregivers can enhance the effectiveness of therapy by ensuring continuity and consistency in implementing therapeutic activities.  Collaboration between therapists, clients,  and caregivers allows therapy to be embedded into daily routines.  

Online occupational therapy allows for a personalized and innovative approach.  Therapists can create engaging and interactive sessions that are tailored to the individual’s interests and needs.  Online occupational therapy allows movement, imitation and promotes engagement.  

Technology can be adjusted to accommodate the sensory needs of individuals and improve the opportunities for interactive engagement.  Making adjustments to volume, lighting, and cueing can make a significant impact on the quality of sessions.  

Technology and screens allow the individual to connect with their occupational therapist and to engage in activities that promote function and skill development without becoming overwhelmed by the demands of busy environments and face to face interactions.  

In conclusion, online occupational therapy can be a valuable option for many individuals with autism, offering convenience, comfort and personalized approaches.  By carefully weighing the benefits and considerations, and maintaining open communication with healthcare professionals, families can make an informed decision that best supports their loved one’s development and well-being.   

Shelli Dry, OTD, OTR/L, MEd

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