I made a change to this slide on the previous one as well, in the sentence starting “no matter.” I changed child to children so the verb would agree. LC
Occupational Therapy Practitioners in Action: Skills on the Hill
Practitioners in Action:
Skills on the Hill
Kristen Masci, MS, OTR/L, director of
Skills on the Hill in Washington, DC,
shows how occupational therapy plays
a role in autism intervention in private
Occupational therapy can make a difference in
the lives of children with autism. Autism is the
fastestgrowing developmental disability, with
an annual growth rate of approximately 10 to
17 percent. No matter where children may fall
on the autism spectrum, occupational therapy
practitioners support them and their families to
participate in daily routines, and promote
function when facing barriers or difficulties
typically associated with this disorder. In
clinics, occupational therapy practitioners help
children interpret and process sensory
information through meaningful activity.
Masci starts her session with Josh, age 4, by letting him select his activities, which
encourages child‐directed choices.
First up, the ball pit. Masci hides stuffed animals and asks Josh to dig for them. Josh
is a “sensory seeker” and thrives in a sensory‐rich environment.
Josh indicates to Masci that he’s not
afraid of confined spaces when using
the red swing. He enjoys the movement,
is challenged by the height of the
suspended equipment, and becomes
calmed by the deep pressure of the
enclosure of the swing.
Bouncing on the trampoline while in
the red swing helps safely increase
Josh’s strength. This is a coordination
activity because his upper body is
stable and his lower body is moving.
Masci also builds Josh’s language skills
by asking him to count his jumps.
Improved coordination at this age sets
the stage for later learning activities
that include sequences or plans.
Josh communicated his desire to go back to
the ball pit, but this time Masci
incorporated the use of a trapeze swing to
aid in grasp and release skills. Josh plans
and strategizes a sequence of events,
including swinging the bar and the timing
necessary to fall into the ball pit. Grasping
strength will be critical to learning writing
and other skills.
Masci asks Josh to clap the bubbles while bouncing on a therapy ball to increase
his sitting balance and trunk stability so he will be able to sit in a chair and pay
attention in future classrooms.
Using play and movement encourages Josh to participate. Masci uses the scooter
ramp to promote trunk and head extension and Josh’s ability to follow directions.
Masci addresses Josh’s hand‐eye
coordination through hitting a ball on a
string with a bat. A real slugger, Josh has
improved his accuracy and strength
greatly since starting at Skills on the
Hill—and his joyful expression says it
Masci uses “fun foam” to help Josh with his tactile sensitivities. Underneath the
foam are toy trains, which serve as a motivator for Josh to overcome his aversion.
Josh is working hard to keep his trunk and head erect during this activity.
Here, Josh tolerates touching a
wet, slippery texture which is
difficult for him. Although
initially Josh was hesitant to let
his hands get messy, he soon
forgot about that and became
engaged in the activity.
Occupational therapy addresses
touch sensitivities that may
impact Josh’s participation
during daily activities, such as
bathing, dressing, and eating.
Masci works on “pre‐handwriting” skills with Josh, which includes holding the
marker with an appropriate grasp and following Masci’s directions.
With occupational therapy, children with
autism and related disorders are better
prepared to meet the important future
challenges of interacting with others and
meeting the demands in school. Occupational
therapy helps children to succeed in their daily
routines at home, at school, and in the