Considerations for Working With Adults with Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities

Considerations for Working With Adults with Autism & Other Developmental Disabilities

Yesterday, I introduced Liz Pagedas and Libby Gilchrist-Thompson. They put together this list of special considerations for working with adults with autism and other developmental delays. They both incorporate games and activities into their sessions with clients, and utilize these suggestions to best individualize sessions.

  • As adults, their needs are different therapeutically.  We have found the more functional and contextual the activity, the better the response and motivation from the client.
  • While we encourage everyone to participate, they are adults and have greater freedom to refuse their session (as compared to a child receiving services at a private practice or receiving homecare).
  • The diversity of interests is great and it’s important to hone in on their specific interests.  While this can be challenging, it’s important to maintain motivation. Taking their generation into account also can spark enthusiasm and motivation – using movies, music, pop-culture references applicable to their generation.
  • They have more life experiences than kids have had, both positive and negative, and that can impact the therapeutic relationship and other interactions.
  • They are adults regardless of their functional level.  Treat them and speak to them like an adult.  Also, use strategies and reinforcements that are age appropriate.  I.e. – Adults may respond better to sincere verbal praise/interactions or certificates vs. token reinforcement (i.e. stickers).
  • Many commercial activities for individuals with developmental disabilities are marketed towards a younger population so modifications should and can be made to make them age appropriate.
  • In using visuals for communication, activities, etc. use pictures of real things – i.e. use photos Google images vs. Mayer Johnson picture symbols.

Liz Pagedas (OTR/L) and Libby Gilchrist-Thompson (CCC-SLP) both work with adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.  They run multidisciplinary groups and individual sessions for their clients.  

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  1. Balancing Age Appropriate Activities with Skill Level | Sam Blanco - […] mentioned in our previous post, many commercial activities for individuals with developmental disabilities are marketed towards a […]

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