Embarking on the Autism Journey

What can an occupational therapist do to assist you in the early stages of a child’s journey?

Firstly, a child does not need a diagnosis for them to engage in OT intervention. Initially an OT is able to assist to establish goals around your child’s current areas of difficulty. These goals may be based on any of the following areas including; communication, social participation, emotional regulation, self-care skills, daily living skills etc. An OT may also assess your child’s general development, provide intervention to support general development and conduct a screener for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

If you, as a parent or carer, has further concerns the next step is further referrals to Paediatrician / other Allied Health disciplines / GP (depending on the needs of the child) all while an OT continues to support with intervention through therapy sessions and programs. An OT will continue to remain available to address any concerns you may have!

Let us further talk about the diagnostic process!!

ASD is best diagnosed jointly by a Paediatrician, General Practitioner and multi-disciplinary team (occupational therapist, psychologist and speech pathologist).

Functional Capacity Assessment and ASD-specific Assessments should be completed for an accurate diagnosis. All the listed professionals are and should be involved in the diagnosis process to ensure a holistic view of your child is gained, ensuring an accurate diagnosis (if needed) is provided and therefore the best support is implemented. 

What will each of these professionals do?


  • ASD diagnosis tools
  • Medical review
  • Developmental history

Occupational Therapist

  • Functional Capacity assessment (FCA)
  • Sensory assessment
  • Gross Motor and Fine Motor assessments


  • Cognitive assessment
  • Mental health evaluation

Speech Pathologist

  • Comprehensive Communication assessment

What can an occupational therapist do to assist you in the case of a diagnosis of ASD?

The role of an OT is to help young people build on strengths and decrease barriers in their everyday activities. We understand that every single child is different! Some interventions an OT may implement within therapy may include; sensory-based intervention, social-cognitive skills, parent and/or caregiver training, occupational coaching, behavioural approaches and interactive interventions.

“Given the breadth and depth of performance limitations, children and adolescents with ASD need a range of interventions and educational programming”

~ Dr Charmaine Bernie