Approaches Used in Occupational Therapy for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Scoping Review

Document Type : Review Articles


1 MSc, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran



Introduction: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) consists of a group of multifactorial issues, and the onset of these disorders in social relationships is associated with behavioral issues that interfere with daily activities. Considering the breadth and depth of performance limitations, these people need a range of interventional and educational programs. Therefore, this study was designed to collect the approaches applied by occupational therapists for these people.Materials and Methods: Research studies indexed in 3 scientific databases including OTseeker, Google Scholar, and PubMed were collected. Inclusion criteria included articles published in English, with the main subject of interventional occupational therapy in people with ASD, and published between 2000 and 2020. After selecting the keywords and organized search, the articles found were matched with the inclusion criteria, and finally 30 studies were selected.Results: Based on our review of resources, occupational therapy interventions for people with ASD can be identified in several main categories as sensory-based interventions, relationship-based interventions, developmental skill-based programs, social-cognitive skills training, parent-directed approaches, intensive behavioral interventions, Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), pivotal response training (PRT), animal-assisted therapy, the cognitive orientation to daily occupational performance approach, floortime model, and the developmental model. Given that the focus of each approach is specific areas of skill and performance, it seems that administering combination of several approaches will be necessary and effective.Conclusion: Based on performed researches, for application of any specific type of approach for a person with ASD, occupational therapists often focus on facilitating sensory processing and participation in play in young children, while in adolescents, occupational therapy goals can focus on social and behavioral performance and independence in society.


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