AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER2018-11-23T13:48:52+00:00

Project Description

July 15th, 2013|Education

Ken is a 7 year old boy with severe autistic spectrum disorder. A He lives in a respite centre for children with disabilities and attends a special needs school. He is able to communicate verbally but often has difficulty communicating his emotions and needs to others.

Reason For Referral

Ken was referred for occupational therapy by his school as he was demonstrating severe challenging behaviour both at school and the respite centre. His behaviour involved physical aggression to property and other people, absconding, shouting and screaming. He was clearly distressed in these situations and often required physical support to remain safe. The Occupational Therapist was asked for support in the assessment and management of these behaviours.

Occupational Therapy Assessment

An initial assessment was carried out to identify the causes of Ken’s behaviour and was completed in close collaboration with the behaviour specialist working with Ken at the time. Assessment included formal tools such as sensory integration assessments as well as informal observations and interviews with family and the staff who supported him.
The assessment identified that the key causes of Ken’s behaviour were:-

  • An extreme sensitivity to visual and auditory (noise) stimuli;
  • A need for regular movement;
  • An inability to cope with change;
  • A need to fully explore environments and support workers before being able to settle;
  • A need for clear structure and routine in his day.

Occupational Therapy Intervention

The Occupational Therapist worked closely with Ken’s family, teachers, social workers, behaviour specialist and the staff at his home to develop a comprehensive program which included:-

  • Two hourly sensory strategies to provide necessary movement stimuli;
  • Regular calming strategies based on a sensory integration approach;
  • Adaptation of the environment to create a low stimulus environment;
  • Implementation of visual timetables and aids to support his understanding of what is happening;
  • Implementation of a photographic staff rota to enable him to understand which staff would be working when.

It was also identified that the constantly changing environment of the respite centre could not provide long term support for Ken. At the request of Ken’s parents, the Occupational Therapist worked closely with social services to identify appropriate long term foster care. He was found a place where the environment and people were more consistent and stable.


Following the input of occupational therapy and other agencies:-

  • Ken is now settled in his new home;
  • He continues to attend the special needs school where the approaches and strategies are used consistently with all staff;
  • Ken’s carers were also supported to implement the same strategies at home to ensure consistency ;
  • The incidents of challenging behaviour has reduced significantly – he is calmer at school and at home;
  • Ken is beginning to accept small changes in his routine and he has developed a therapeutic and trusting relationship with those supporting him;
  • He is requiring fewer services and support from social services and appears to be a much happier young man;
  • He is engaging well in class and showing great improvements in his academic learning.


Project Details