If you’re the parent lacking funds of Occupational Therapy to treat autism / ASD symptoms, there are DIY Occupational Therapy solutions you can use to help your child grasp fine motor skills better. You can also increase gross motor skills and mix in language lessons if your child is underperforming verbally.
I’m going to call this my disclaimer paragraph. This is my story and the differences of those on the autism spectrum are so wide and varying. They weren’t kidding when they named it a “spectrum.” I’m not here to save the world but if you take any of the ideas out of the next few paragraphs to heart and have questions, please contact me. Everyone’s situation is different. Please take my plan of action as consideration, especially if formal Occupational Therapy isn’t an option due to high cost.
About the time of my son’s 3rd birthday I started talking to more and more people about my experiences. Through these people and some research, I heard that Occupational Therapy would not only help his coordination, it could help his speech delay. One of my beefs about all this is/was that this was never recommended by the “experts” and was by no means 100% covered by my insurance. Anyway, I found a reputable Occupational Therapy location and Jayson began seeking professional Occupational Therapy once a week. We saw immediate improvement. The Occupational Therapy therapist had Jayson perform many fun strength and agility exercises. She even worked with Jayson on his food aversion issues (another huge symptom). Though it wasn’t overnight, the success was progressing in his speech as well as his coordination.
While formal Occupational Therapy helped, my husband and I started using our own DIY Occupational Therapy techniques whenever we could. These DIY Occupational Therapy techniques for autism / ASD symptoms weren’t simply “playing catch” with our child. Our methods consisted of constantly injecting informal DIY Occupational Therapy into my son’s regular day.
I believe the following “at-home” occupational therapy methods are simple and effective if parents/guardians are persistent.
DIY Occupational Therapy Solutions for Autism – Gross Motor Skills
In addition to my son’s physical work at regular Occupational Therapy, my husband and I worked our son pretty hard at home. Jayson’s coordination before Occupational Therapy was way off. He didn’t seem to have any “spatial awareness.” He could not climb and come back down from any ladder or playground equipment. You could toss him a foam nerf ball and it would literally bounce off of him and his reactions were slow and uncoordinated. We played numerous games of catch with him. We also would take him to a gym to teach him how to walk and bounce a basketball together. I don’t want to give the impression that it was some sort of boot camp, but we really had to go the extra mile in terms of helping him realize where objects were in his framework of space. We made speaking an integral part of our “games.” After every catch or basketball shot we’d have him name something from a category (Sesame Street characters, colors, foods, classmates names). The fun began to breed confidence which eventually bred more and more success.
DIY Occupational Therapy Solutions for Autism – Fine Motor Skills
We used my son’s Asberger’s tendency to gravitate toward stacking and patterns and turned it into a strength to incorporate toys and games that dealt with fine motor skills. We purchased Therapy Putty and Play Dough and used to hide trinkets in them for him to find. Lite Brite pieces, Legos, and the game Perfection also helped a great deal. We purchased tiny dice for him to stack and challenged him regularly to see how high he can stack them. You can find tiny items and trinkets in your house or at the local dollar store.
DIY Occupational Therapy Solutions for Autism – Verbal
During the Occupational Therapy session years I began to ask what else my husband and I could do to improve Jayson’s fine-motor and speech skills. One thing we did was we began to seriously limit many of his creature comforts that caused him to retreat inward and become compulsive. This was extremely difficult. You’re taking comfort away from your child! No more marathon video game sessions or fun on the laptop or tablet. If left to his own devices, my son would obsess over a video game even after he mastered it. He would also watch and memorize video scenes over and over and physically “act out” scenes (think of Dustin Hoffman’s “Who’s On First” routine from RAINMAN). We took many actions that resolved in more direct conversational contact with him beyond what a normal child would face. He would slowly, eventually come out of his inwardness and communicate better with our efforts. Since he enjoyed patterns, we made up little songs about steps to getting ready for bed and constantly involved him in question/answer conversations. We never let up and he slowly began putting the pieces of himself together.
I want to summarize the previous paragraphs because this entire post comes down to a few basic realizations someone can have when faced with the challenges of the autism spectrum. Trust your gut, keep researching, try everything, be prepared to abandon what doesn’t work and expect little in the way of help from doctors and “experts” that shrug their shoulders and tell you to “come back another time.”
Do you have any DIY Occupational Therapy Solutions for Autism tips?