A recent New York Times article about the kids who “beat autism” included a discussion about whether the focus should be on eradicating autism or if we should focus on promoting the strengths of people with ASD. AOTA sent a letter to the editor in response to the article to emphasize the role of OT and the importance of a multidisciplinary approach for people with autism. 

 Promoting strengths is the topic of AOTA’s next pediatric chat. Hear from an OT (Kristie Patten Koenig) and an adult with autism (Dr. Stephen Shore) about using a strength-based, inclusive approach in OT. Join us on Monday, August 25 at 1 p.m. ET

In the spirit of promoting strengths of people with autism, we found a few articles that take that approach.

The first is about a program that helps teenagers with autism learn architecture software to build job skills. Some of the participants in the project have gotten summer jobs based on the skills they gained. Read more about the program in the Salt Lake Tribune

CNN recently featured a video about a father who is using a photography project to connect with his son with autism. Timothy Archibald is a professional photographer, and he works with his son Eli to create photos of a how Eli sees the world differently. In the video, Eli says he’s able to associate with his dad in a different way because of their project. Watch the video here.  

Finally, OT researchers at Boston University are studying whether video can be a tool to help adolescents with autism improve social skills and strengthen their friendships.

We love this quote from one of the OTs from a BU Today article: “Much of the research in the autism field has been focused on the social impairments of people with autism,” says Ellen Cohn. “But some people with an ASD do have friends, and we thought, rather than focusing on their social communications deficits, why don’t we flip this paradigm on its head and try to understand what adolescents who have autism are doing that works for them. How are they relating to their friends? What do they think about friends?”

The team gave participants video cameras and asked them to record when they were doing something with friends. Read more about the project at BU Today

Want to learn more about promoting strengths and a strength-based approach? We have an information sheet on the topic as part of AOTA School Mental Health Toolkit. You can find the info sheet and the toolkit here