Raising children is not always an easy feat. They can frequently be a joy, but it often comes with a great deal of responsibility, care, time, and effort. Having a child that requires different kinds of needs and attention can often result in you feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Yet, it is possible for you to find ways and habits that work to your (and your children’s) advantage. We hope to share some foundational insight into the ever-growing minds of the younger generation and ways to support them
What is ASDA?
Each year, there is a rising number of children diagnosed with autism, with the rate currently at 1 in 54 children. 1 Yet, society in the United States has not adapted enough to support them and their families.
Our goal at ASDA is to bridge this gap. Whether it is to create a sensory-friendly environment at the local burger joint or to enable stress-free communication between family members at home, ASDA aims to bring the adaptations to the community. It is an important reminder to society that children with autism are not born with a disability – they are born different. And that means we just need to support them differently than the everyday norms and expectations.
Occupational Therapy: Helping You and Your Family Live Your Best Life
As occupational therapists (OTs), we have training that tends to focus on a person’s holistic well-being.
Our goal is always to make sure we are providing the utmost care in helping individuals reach their potential for living their best life. With knowledge of one’s physical, mental, social, and spiritual health, we help bring out the potentials and skills that may have been dormant or loss in transition/injury.
Children with autism can often benefit from environmental adaptations, positive coping mechanisms, and supportive people around them. Yet, the most crucial of all is for the child to know they are being heard and that they have choices they can make in their life. OTs take their time to truly know every one of their clients while providing evidence-based practice in relatable ways. By establishing this strong therapeutic rapport with the child and gaining their trust, we can provide fun and effective interventions.
Speech Therapy: Speech Language Pathology is provided by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and their assistants (SLPA) to improve the communication of individuals. With a focus on the expressive, receptive, and the social communication of individuals with learning differences, we strive to take the strengths of our clients to address their areas of deficit to allow them to become the best communicators that they can be.
Opportunities for the Community and Homes
Recently, a 5-year, $3.1 million study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) investigated the benefits of adapting the dental environment into something that is friendlier and more suitable for children with autism. 2 As one of the research team members on the study, I must say that it was an
amazing and very unique opportunity to see the sensory-adapted environments in the community.
Although the results are not available yet, the feedback from some of the parents and participating children were promising, suggesting that there are positive outcomes from the adaptations (e.g. some families really enjoyed the calm background music coupled with the dimmed lights and ceiling art
projections). There were some lessons learned from this study in the dental environment, such as understanding that the participants and parents were experts just as much as the research and dental team 3 , and I believe that there may be some advantages in using these strategies in the local
1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (March 25, 2020). Data & statistics on Autism
Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
2. USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy (n. d.). Sensory Adapted
Dental Environments to enhance oral care for children (SADE-2). Retrieved from
3. Chu, E., Florindez, L. I., Como, D. H., Richter, M., Hudak, D., Isralowitz, E., … & Cermak, S. A.
(2020). Conducting interdisciplinary research with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder:
Lessons learned from an oral care intervention study [E-Poster]. International Society for Autism
Research 2020 Conference.