Everyone wants children with developmental or other challenges to get all the help they deserve. It’s especially true for kids with autism, who are challenged by social interaction, verbal communication, and sensory issues. Some of the strongest advocates for children with autism are occupational therapy practitioners. Often, it’s those with an occupational therapy assistant degree – an OTA – who are uniquely trained to help.
OTAs and Occupational Therapy for Children
Experts say even those children exhibiting only mild signs of autism need support and assistance as early as possible to reach their full potential.
The activities of childhood – learning to play, interact, plan, etc. are a kid’s “occupation,” which is why occupational therapy practitioners are so helpful. One study said children who display behaviors typically associated with autism were less likely to make friends, see them after school, or be invited to activities than kids with other types of disabilities and disorders.
How an Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree Can Help
The introduction of specific activities by professionals with an occupational therapy assistant degree can help address issues with social participation, play, leisure, and reactions to restricted and repetitive behaviors children with autism might exhibit.
Although the occupational therapy needs of each child with ASD are individually assessed, here are some common areas of focus that OTAs may address through specific activities:
Interested in Providing Occupational Therapy for Children? Become an OTA
The direct route to becoming an OTA is to earn a two-year applied science degree known as an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. This degree begins with at least 24 hours of general education coursework before admission to the primary OTA coursework. (More degree details are here.)
As you work toward your occupational therapy assistant degree, you will take general courses in communications and psychology, as well as learn about performance analysis, rehabilitation and disability issues, and therapeutic interventions.
Class and lab time for the occupational therapy assistant degree is combined with a four-to-five-month fieldwork experience that often includes various workplace settings, from schools to rehab centers, to senior care facilities.
Those who’ve chosen an occupational therapy assistant career like what they do because they can often see the difference they make in people’s lives. U.S. News and World Report says being an OTA is one of the top health care support jobs out there. If you’re motivated, teachable, and love to help others succeed, you have the right characteristics to become an OTA.
The CUKC Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private university located in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb within the metro Kansas City area. CUKC offers a comprehensive OTA program leading to the Associate of Applied Sciences (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree. In just two years, you’re prepared for national certification and employment as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). A typical OTA with a year of experience can earn $45,000.
In the OTA program at CUKC, focused, eight-week evening courses immerse you in your class subjects. Class time is combined with guided instruction by faculty with real-life OTA experience and use of in our simulated living quarters lab.
Are you interested in a career in occupational therapy for children that allows you to make a difference in the lives of those with autism? Becoming an OTA could be right for you. Begin the journey by downloading the free Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.