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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

ASD Occupational Therapy Service

The Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Occupational Therapy (OT) Service is for children up to 18 years old and is based within Children's Therapy Services at the Child Development Centre.


Referral criteria

Paediatricians can refer to this service to get sensory advice and support for children with a diagnosis of ASD and significant sensory integration difficulties. (Paediatricians - please check referral criteria on the form first)

Services offered

The 'Sensory Parenting' course is a popular course which may be considered when referrals are received. The course provides parents with an insight into their child's sensory needs and how to support them.

ASD and Wheelchairs

The ASD OT service, Children's Learning Disability Service and Dorset Wheelchair Services have jointly produced guidance on the use of buggies or wheelchairs for children with ASD.

Copies of this advice can be downloaded here:

Buggies and Wheelchairs for children with ASD


Sensory Integration

What is sensory integration?

Download our leaflet 'What is Sensory Integration?'

Sensory integration is a process that happens in the brain to put all of the sensory information received together, make sense of it and act on it.

Our seven senses are:

  • Visual
  • Auditory (sound)
  • Taste
  • Smell
  • Touch
  • Proprioception (muscle and joint movement)
  • Vestibular (balance and head movement).

Our brains integration sensory information automatically, all the time.

Sensory integration difficulties

If a child or adult has a problem integrating sensory information, they can find daily tasks difficult. It may result in children having a disproportionate response to sensory information, such as screaming when they hear a noise or saying that a someone touching their arm lightly was painful.  

The occupational therapists in Children's Therapy Services  can provide support to children on the autism spectrum with sensory difficulties - you can read more about their service here.

Useful resources

For further information about children with sensory needs, this video may be helpful.

There are handouts on our handouts for parents page, covering topics such as:

  • Picky Eating
  • Toothbrushing
  • Movement
  • Hair cuts

Your OT Appointment

This page is for children and their families who have an appointment with an Occupational Therapist within Children's Therapy Services.

When you get to the Child Development Centre, your parent/carer will tell the person at reception you are there. You will then wait in the waiting area. In the waiting area there are some books, toys, paper and colouring pencils for you to use while you wait. There are photos of all the staff on the board.

When the therapists come to get you, they will call your name. You and your parent/carer then go with them to your appointment.

On your letter it may say which room your appointment is in. If your letter says you are in the sensory integration room, this is the room you will be in:

The therapists want to know what you are good at, anything you find difficult, and your sensory systems. Your senses are what tell you about what is going on outside and inside your body. Everyone has 7 sensory systems.

These are:

  • Sound
  • Sight
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch
  • Head movement
  • Body movement

Your appointment will be approximately 45 minutes long.

We are looking forward to seeing you!

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