Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy for Autism and Developmental Delays


If you have a child with developmental delay, or a diagnosis for autism, the good news is that early intervention with Occupational Therapy (OT) can greatly improve a wide range of outcomes.1 In fact, OT is considered a primary mode of intervention for autism and developmental delays and disabilities.


What is OT?

Occupational therapy is an allied health practice that holistically treats people who have injuries, disabilities, or other conditions, including autism. OT’s help their clients develop, recover, or maintain their ability to engage in meaningful daily activities. 


How does an OT assess someone with Autism and Developmental Delays?

Occupational therapists assess the current developmental levels of children and adults with autism and developmental delays, aiming to identify barriers that impact both independence and engagement with the community.  Through various interventions, OTs can help people with autism build on their areas of strength and overcome many of their challenges. 

These include:

  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Sensory processing
  • Emotional regulation
  • Cognitive skills


What’s the process of assessment?

OTs begin by meeting your child where they are at, today. The process begins with the OT assessing physical, sensory, emotional, and cognitive abilities, and comparing this to well established milestones, before moving on to develop individualised goals and a personal treatment plan. Every child is different, so every OT treatment plan is tailored to the unique needs of the child. The OT then works with the child and their family to help them make progress toward their goals.

Some specific examples of what an OT will assess include: 

  • Social: interactions with others, emotion regulation, behaviour, desire for personal space, eye contact, aggression
  • Communication: speech, non-verbal communication
  • Cognitive: attention span, stamina
  • Sensory: responses to stimuli, sensory seeking, sensory defensiveness
  • Motor: posture, balance, manipulation of small objects


How will OT help with Autism and Developmental Delays?

After completing an initial evaluation, the occupational therapist works with the child and family to develop a personalised intervention plan and treatment goals.

Some specific examples of how an OT can assist your family include: 

  • Improving self-care routines to help with daily activities such as bathing, feeding, and grooming.
  • Daily living skills for independence and success at school or in the community
  • Implementing emotional development and self-regulation strategies and programs.
  • Organising peer groups, social participation, and group play activities.
  • Working on gross motor development, including postural control and coordination
  • Developing fine motor skills used for handwriting, cutlery, dressing, and using small objects
  • Supporting an adolescent’s transition into adulthood and helping them build skills to enter the workforce.
  • Using cognitive behavioural approaches to support positive behaviours, problem solving and impulse control

Occupational therapists can help people with ASD gain independence and:8

  • Focus on academic tasks.
  • Communicate appropriately.
  • Maintain and foster relationships.
  • Work with others to achieve a common goal or purpose.
  • Learn to delay gratification.
  • Express emotions in a healthy, productive way and regulate arousal level.
  • Become more independent and confident.
  • Feel less anxious.


When Should I see an OT?

If your child is not meeting their developmental milestones, the science is clear – the earlier you can seek intervention for developmental delay, the better!

Early intervention is important, whether your child has a formal autism diagnosis or not. 

So if you are concerned that your child is falling behind in terms of development milestones or if you see any of the early signs of autism then please contact our concierge team to help work out the most effective pathway for you and your child.

Critically, and reflecting the importance of early intervention, the NDIS can provide funding based on a diagnosis for Developmental Delay, prior to a diagnosis for Autism!

This is great news for parents who are concerned about developmental milestones being missed, or who are perhaps seeing some of the other early signs of Autism, as they can consult with their GP and qualified multi-Disciplinary allied health professionals to determine if a diagnosis of Developmental Delay is appropriate. This provides parents with an avenue to seek NDIS funding and early interventional therapies, without having to navigate the extended delays now being experienced by parents seeking a diagnosis for Autism.


What is the Brain Train Approach to OT?

At Brain Train, we take a synergetic approach to empowering people with Autism and Developmental Delays to live their best lives. 

What we mean by that is we tailor a therapeutic approach for each individual child, combining the best of Multi-Disciplinary Therapies including Occupational Therapy, with our signature Sensorimotor Program

This unique approach is built upon three primary insights:

  • All of us, and especially children, are most motivated and engaged when we are having fun. So, we embed a play-based approach into everything we do. When we are playing, we are having fun, which significantly increases motivation, engagement, and progress. We believe our clients deserve to LOVE their time with us.


  • People with autism and neuro-developmental differences are impacted by various combinations of sensory, gross, and fine motor dysfunction. Our sensorimotor program provides our clients with the foundation required for sensory integration, motor control and improved neurological efficiency.


  • A more efficient neural foundation compliments and enhances our multidisciplinary supports, encompassing speech & language, occupational therapy, behavioural supports, physiotherapy and exercise physiology. Sensorimotor and Multi-Disciplinary therapies work together, complimenting and enhancing the impact of each, for a truly holistic approach.


We have paediatric Occupational Therapists available in all our centres now, who focus every day on supporting children with Autism and Developmental Delay, and their families.

So book your appointment today via Live Chat our the website, by calling us on 1-300-209-634 or use the form below.