Kelly Tanner, Brittany N. Hand, Gjyn O’Toole, Alison E. Lane; Effectiveness of Interventions to Improve Social Participation, Play, Leisure, and Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors in People With Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(5):6905180010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.017806
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) commonly experience difficulties with social participation, play, and leisure along with restricted and repetitive behaviors that can interfere with occupational performance. The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate current evidence for interventions within the occupational therapy scope of practice that address these difficulties. Strong evidence was found that social skills groups, the Picture Exchange Communication System, joint attention interventions, and parent-mediated strategies can improve social participation. The findings were less conclusive for interventions to improve play and leisure performance and to decrease restricted and repetitive behaviors, but several strategies showed promise with moderately strong supporting evidence. Occupational therapists should be guided by evidence when considering interventions to improve social participation, play, leisure, and restricted and repetitive behaviors in people with ASD. Additional research using more robust scientific methods is needed for many of the currently available strategies.
Occupational therapy practitioners should consider using group-based social skills training programs to address limitations in social skills in children with ASD. Other interventions may also be effective, but additional research is needed.
Occupational therapy practitioners should consider using PECS, joint attention, and parent-mediated strategies to improve social communication in individuals with ASD. Other interventions may also be effective, but additional research is needed.
Although limitations in play and leisure should be addressed in individuals with ASD, limited evidence currently exists for specific interventions to improve these areas of occupation.
Occupational therapy practitioners should consider the use of behavioral techniques such as antecedent manipulation and self-management to manage restricted and repetitive behaviors that interfere with occupational performance in individuals with ASD.
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