Meet Isaac: Challenged by autism, at home and at school
Isaac is a 6-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and expressive language disorder. He lives with his mom, dad, and 11-year-old sibling. Isaac is generally a happy boy who likes to be independent and prefers to do his favourite activities on his own. He loves to draw and color, help with cooking and baking, and dance to singalongs with movement .
Currently, Isaac needs a parent’s help to complete all his basic self-care tasks (ADLs) . He dislikes anything to do with his hair, so it is long and tangled. Brushing teeth is also difficult as he doesn’t like to open his mouth for long and he chews on toothbrushes instead. Isaac is not yet toilet trained although he can follow the routine if his parents can take him to the toilet at the right time. He can feed himself using his hands which is his preference, but his food repertoire is limited .
Isaac just started Grade 1 in a special education classroom. He loves his new school and takes the school bus to and from school. This is a huge help to Isaac’s parents because Isaac will not leave the house with his family for any outing other than school, and will only travel on the school bus. Because of this, the family cannot go out into the community together, such as to the grocery store or a park. Isaac’s family would like to go out together, to expose Isaac to different things and encourage more gross motor activities.
Isaac’s parents have also experienced difficulties with engaging Stella, Isaac’s older sibling. Stella seems resentful at times and feels like Isaac gets so much attention all the time which makes her feel left out and not part of the family.
Isaac is on the waitlist for professional services funded by FCSD. Although he could have access to OT and SLP through school, this is only short-term on a consultative basis with a waitlist of 3-6 months. Using the SAOT Find an OT search feature, Isaac’s parents found a private OT with a special interest in pediatrics.
How Occupational Therapy [OT] assisted Isaac and his family:
- OT met with Isaac and his family in their home, taking a collaborative and problem-solving approach to explore their priorities and goals.
- Assisted in developing daily routines and schedules at home, with focus on toilet training and dressing to help prepare Isaac for greater independence at school.
- Provided new skills and strategies to Isaac and his parents that would enable him to participate in a new family community outing each week.
- Referred to other healthcare providers, including a dietitian who could help address nutritional needs.
- Provided information on sibling support groups and suggested scheduling special time for Isaac’s older sibling to ensure her needs are being met.
Outcome for Isaac and his family:
- Isaac improved his independence with toileting and dressing, and required supervision or reminders with less assistance.
- He has more consistently engaged in daily activities, and when there was a regression, the family was better able to understand what might be contributing to the change.
- He participated in weekly family outings to familiar places that were meaningful to him, such as the school playground.
- His parents and sibling felt more confident in their ability to assist Isaac when he needed help, and to facilitate his independence in his areas of strength.
- Isaac has benefited from additional healthcare providers to his community-based team, which helped him and his family to feel more supported and understood.