Thousands of Parents Select Occupational Therapy as Best Therapy for Autism
By Stephanie Yamkovenko
Thousands of parents of children with autism selected occupational therapy as the best therapy for their child in a recent survey on MyAutismTeam.com. The site is a social network for parents of children with autism and currently has nearly 30,000 members. As part of the sign up process, parents are asked, “what therapies, if any, worked best for your child?”
Occupational therapy was the top choice and was mentioned by 39% of parents who answered the survey. Speech therapy came in second with 27%, and applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy received 15% of the mentions. See the entire list of results here.
“Clearly occupational therapy has made a big difference in the lives of many kids with autism,” says the co-founder of MyAutismTeam, Eric Peacock. “It’s among the first therapies parents recommend to each other when they connect on MyAutismTeam.”
The survey question was open-ended, meaning it did not have a multiple choice list of answers. By asking parents this open-ended question, Peacock says the results of the survey are very personal because it specifically asks what worked best for that parent’s child.
“I think one thing that is important about occupational therapy is that it is carefully tailored to the individual developmental needs of each child,” says Peacock. “You can read through thousands of examples of this in the stories and posts parents are making on MyAutismTeam. OT seems to start with the developmental needs of the individual and works from there.”
MyAutismTeam launched in June 2011 and started as a service to allow parents to easily find providers who could help their children with autism with a searchable local business database of more than 30,000 providers, including occupational therapy practitioners. MyAutismTeam is also a social network where parents can connect and provide reviews and insights about providers.
In the span of a little more than a year, the site grew from about 30 parents to nearly 30,000. “Parents of children with autism want to learn and share with other people who have been in their shoes,” says Peacock. “The want to do social networking about autism with other people who ‘get it’—not everyone they know on Facebook.”
Peacock explains that parents share things on MyAutismTeam, such as a mother’s 7-year-old finally going to the bathroom by himself, that is immediately understood and appreciated by other parents with children with autism. “If you put that on Facebook a lot of people who don't understand the challenges of autism might scratch their heads or, worse, pass judgment,” says Peacock.
Parents on the site select a “team” of providers who are effective and help their child—including occupational therapy practitioners, barbers, babysitters, and autism-friendly businesses. Occupational therapy practitioners can join MyAutismTeam for free as a provider and update their listing on the site (or create a listing if they are not already in the database).
“When another parent is looking for a referral, they find parents on MyAutismTeam near them and see who is on their team,” says Peacock. “As a provider, you can join the site and make sure you are listed as an OT with expertise working in autism. You can also tell your clients that when they join MyAutismTeam they should make sure to add you to their team.”
Stephanie Yamkovenko is AOTA’s staff writer.