Autism, a developmental disability, is defined by behavioural characteristics. Primary features of autism are described as problems in language skills, plays and social interaction . It is considered a spectrum disorder, as the abilities of children with autism may vary greatly from one child to another
2. Symptoms begin during early childhood and distinctive incompetence and limited, repetitive behaviours are seen in socio-communicative field. In addition to these primary features, individuals with autism generally have sensory processing and sensory integration dysfunction, which affect adaptive behaviour and participating daily activities. Many children with autism are unable to register many of the sensations from their environment. They cannot integrate those sensations to form a clear perception of space. Atypical sensory registration and orientation can interfere with the processes of inhibition and facilitation in sensory systems. Some self-stimulatory behaviour is the expression of a sensory need in children with autism. Assessing sensory integrative functioning in children with autism is critical for planning and implementing effective intervention in occupational therapy [3-5]. As far as motor functions are concerned, motor impairments have been reported in children with autism. The studies shown that problems are observed in coordination, posture and balance control, locomotion and motor preparation in individuals with autism [6-10].
Due to sensory integration dysfunction, individuals with autism have difficulty fulfilling the roles they are expected to accomplish in their life and they can display behaviours that can hinder their participation in daily life. The primary aim of occupational therapy practices is to ensure that the individuals with autism participate in communal life through minimizing the difficulties in the daily
activities they experience at home, school or in communal life and maximizing their independency. Occupational therapists believe that the individual with autism’s community participation can be increased through their participation in meaningful and purposeful activities they have in their daily roles and aims to achieve. They also make use of client-centred and holistic therapeutic interventions both in analysing and evaluating the problems which individuals with autism face and in their treatment and support system.
Occupational therapy interventions, which are designed according to standardized assessment tests, questionnaires, skilled observations, provide considerable advantage in dealing with the problems individuals with autism and their families face in daily life.
This chapter will give information on standardized assessment tests and practices applied in occupational therapy interventions such as sensory integration therapy, auditory integration training, activities of daily living training, play therapy, social skills training, cognitive behavioural therapy, school-based intervention, recreational activities and sports and vocational rehabilitation.