Occupational Therapy Practitioners in Action: Towson University

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Follow occupational therapy students at Towson University in Maryland as they show how occupational therapy plays a role in intervention with young adults through the Center for Adults with Autism …

Follow occupational therapy students at Towson University in Maryland as they show how occupational therapy plays a role in intervention with young adults through the Center for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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  • 1. Occupational Therapy  Practitioners in Action:  Towson University Follow occupational therapy students at Towson  University in Maryland as they show how  occupational therapy plays a role in   intervention with young adults through the  Center for Adults with Autism Spectrum  Disorders.
  • 2. One in every 150 children has or develops  autism, and occupational therapy can make a  difference throughout their lives. As these  children become young adults, occupational  therapy practitioners can help them lead  productive and fulfilling lives as integrated  members in their community through  interventions that address social interactions  and build interpersonal relationships.
  • 3. In a joint effort with kinesiology students, occupational therapy students Laura  Hillman and Sherron Schuchman lead a group of young adults in the community to  work on social participation skills. Here, the leaders facilitate communication  through “ice breaker” activities—sharing their interests while passing the ball. 
  • 4. The occupational therapy students help  the young adults prepare for exercise—a  conduit for working toward the larger  goal of social participation. In this  activity, the group member mimics  movement, which indicates body  awareness, social recognition, and  coordination.
  • 5. The young adults stretch themselves physically and socially during the 90‐minute  wellness session. The occupational therapy students help the young adults model  social behavior and talk to each other, and the kinesiology students plan the  physical activities.
  • 6. Through stretching, Telesforo gains body  awareness while  preparing to exercise.  Schuchman coaches him to maintain extension  for 15 seconds, helping him learn self‐control  and communication.
  • 7. Individuals with autism often display  difficulty with communication. Hillman  coaches Daniel how to express his  needs and wants. Here, he asks  kinesiology student Kelly Nevin about  equipment use in the wellness center.
  • 8. While he uses an exercise machine,  Zack engages in social interaction with  Hillman. She facilitates ongoing  dialogue and relationship‐building by  sustaining conversation.
  • 9. While the goal of the program is to promote social interaction among the young  adults themselves, the occupational therapy students are also promoting leisure  and exercise as important forms of activity and participation.
  • 10. Hillman encourages peer  interaction between Tom and Zach.
  • 11. Building body and trunk rotation increases flexibility and body awareness for the  program participants, and group exercises help them take turns and become more  comfortable with each other.
  • 12. Hillman and Greg time their exercise to  mirror one another. Greg learns to  follow Hillman’s directions during this  strengthening activity.
  • 13. The wellness  center is open to  the community,  and is used by  individuals with  and without  disabilities. Taking  a suggestion from  another exerciser,  Hillman  demonstrates  “drawing the  alphabet” with the  medicine ball to  Tom—illustrating  their full  participation in  and utilization of a  community  resource.
  • 14. Engagement in meaningful activities and social  participation with the help of occupational  therapy prepares young adults with autism and  related disorders to live life to its fullest.   Occupational therapy helps build necessary and  appropriate relationships with others.