By: Meghan Davidson-Palmer, MS, OTR/L
I am always seeking to expand my knowledge of autism and to grow my tool box with evidence-based interventions for autistic children. I recently took the Learn Play Thrive Approach to Autism course to expand my knowledge in this area. This course was taught by Meg Proctor, OTRL/L and focused on taking a strengths-based approach to treatment, incorporating client interests as well as their strengths and unique learning styles. I learned new ways of structuring therapeutic activities (as well as the environment) to best match each client’s unique learning style and to make activities more engaging and motivating for them. The course also addressed interpreting behaviors (including but not limited to avoidance and difficulty with transitions), and how these behaviors may be related to autism learning styles. For example, when a client is struggling with an activity, it may not be that they do not yet have the skills to participate in the activity, but rather that the activity has not been designed or presented in a way that makes sense to them.
The course also focused on visual supports and how to use these more successfully. I’ve used visual supports in my interventions for autistic children for several years now, but this course has helped me to tailor the visuals I use to best match individual client needs and their unique learning style. It has also helped me to teach them to use the visuals with less support so that they do not become too dependent on prompts. Other areas this course focused on were the development of play and leisure skills, generalizing skills from the clinic to community settings, and strategies to support caregivers to ensure carryover of skills at home and in the classroom. I really enjoyed taking this course and look forward to continuing to expand my knowledge in this area so that I can be more effective when working with autistic children and their families.