Multi-Disciplinary team of professionals involved in rehabilitation of ASD

The presence of ASD in a person points at neurological differences which make appropriate social behaviour and interaction difficult. However, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for PwASD. Hence, rehabilitation measures are delivered by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. Most often, the aim of rehabilitation is to help the person with ASD (PwASD) overcome the challenges of their condition. In addition, rehabilitation must help a PwASD lead a meaningful life. Consequently, the focus is on reducing the symptoms of ASD, strengthening the development and learning of functional and behavioural skills along with social-communication skills. Read more at Here

As defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013), Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction and the presence of restricted, repetitive behaviours. For more information on Interoception and Autism read Here

Let’s briefly look at what types of treatments are offered for PwASD and understand which professionals are involved in this treatment process. A multi-disciplinary team of professionals are required in the holistic rehabilitation of a person with ASD.

1. Physicians & Pediatricians

Usually, a general physician or a paediatrician might be one of the first team members in identifying the presence of ASD in children. They, then make appropriate referrals to other professionals. This kick starts the rehabilitation process for children with autism.

Some children with autism might present with epilepsy, hyperactivity or sleep disturbances. In such cases, physicians might also prescribe medicines during the process of rehabilitation.

2. Psychologists, Psychiatrists & Counsellors

Psychologists or Behaviour Therapists

These team members focus on changing behaviours by understanding what happens before and after the behaviour. They help in establishing desired social behaviours in Person with autism. The focus is also to reduce unacceptable behaviours such as stereotypic or repetitive behaviours. They work towards skill-building and establishing functional skills for all activities of daily living. Learn more about how to inculcate social skills from a psychologist.

Psychiatrists & Counsellors

Oftentimes, teens and adults with ASD experience problems related to mental health. Some of them are depression, mood disorders, anxiety, suicidal tendencies etc. Also, dealing with family members with conditions such as ASD at times might cause burn-out for the caregivers. Psychiatrists and Counsellors help with these issues and provide support to children with autism and their caregivers. 

3. Speech Language Pathologists or Speech Therapists

Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) or Speech Therapists work towards improving communication skills and social interaction. They work on speaking, using language appropriately, using appropriate non-verbal. Specifically, they encourage behaviour such as making an eye-contact, taking turns etc. Sometimes, they might recommend using alternate forms of communication. These could be sign language, communication books, gestures or electronic devices etc. Likewise, SLPs also build the basics of social interaction and facilitate building interpersonal relationships in Person with autism. Since Person with autism have difficulties in both verbal and Non-verbal communication, these professionals become an important part of the team. Get more ideas to improve social skills in autism

4. Occupational Therapists

Occupational Therapists help Person with autism perform activities of daily living such as brushing, bathing, clothing, grooming etc independently. They build skills that will help the children with autism live as independently as possible. A key focus is placed on body awareness, sensory integration, toilet training and grooming, posture corrections, gross and fine motor skills and self-help skills. Specifically, the goal is to improve the quality of life of a Person with autism. 

5. Physical Therapists

Physical therapists help develop functional mobility such as walking and running, gross and fine motor skills, coordination and stable postures in a children with autism. Furthermore, these skills help in developing daily routines, play skills such as throwing, jumping, hopping etc., increased fitness and stamina

6. Special Educators & Resource Teachers

Yet another integral member(s) of the multi-disciplinary team involved with children with autism, are Special Educators and Resource Teachers.  They design and use structured and individualized academic content so as improve the learning outcomes for the children with autism. They help build skills related to behaviours and routines related to classroom situations and mainstreaming children with ASD.

7. Dieticians 

In addition, children with autism may exhibit strong preferences for a certain food or have sensory issues related to the texture, consistency or temperature of the food. They may have extreme reactions to the introduction of a new kind of food. Therefore, Dieticians play an important role in helping caregivers meet the nutritional needs of the children with autism given the above-mentioned restrictions.

A multi-disciplinary team for the rehabilitation of children works together towards the common goal of skill-building in areas of social relationships, communication skills, life skills, academic skills and vocational skills. Undoubtedly, the aim of the rehabilitation process is to help a children life as independently as possible and lead a meaningful and productive life.

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