Autism Treatments - American Academy of Pediatrics: Boundaries of Occupational Therapy Realm

Occupational Therapy and Sensory Integration Therapy

Traditional occupational therapy often is provided to promote development of self-care skills (eg, dressing, manipulating fasteners, using utensils, personal hygiene) and academic skills (eg, cutting with scissors, writing). Occupational therapists also may assist in promoting development of play skills, modifying classroom materials and routines to improve attention and organization, and providing prevocational training. However, research regarding the efficacy of occupational therapy in ASDs is lacking. Sensory integration (SI) therapy often is used alone or as part of a broader program of occupational therapy for children with ASDs. The goal of SI therapy is not to teach specific skills or behaviors but to remediate deficits in neurologic processing and integration of sensory information to allow the child to interact with the environment in a more adaptive fashion. Unusual sensory responses are common in children with ASDs, but there is not good evidence that these symptoms differentiate ASDs from other developmental disorders, and the efficacy of SI therapy has not been demonstrated objectively. Available studies are plagued by methodologic limitations, but proponents of SI note that higher-quality SI research is forthcoming.
See also: relationship-based intervention lacks evidence and Applied Behavior Analysis has 5 decades of evidence 

Complete work: AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS, Management of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders BY Scott M. Myers, MD, Chris Plauché Johnson, MD, MEd, the Council on Children With Disabilities.