Occupational therapy interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders - a Rapid Review





autism, intervention, rapd review, policy report


Introduction: This rapid review aimed to synthesise evidence for occupational therapy intervention in the management of autism spectrum disorders. The review forms part of a series of rapid reviews commissioned by the Occupational Therapy Association of South Africa to help inform decision making as South Africa prepares for a new health system.

Method: Level I and II research studies published from 2017 - 2022 were considered for inclusion. Electronic database searches were conducted on the Cochrane database. The identified records were screened in Rayyan according to inclusion and exclusion criteria. Quality assessment of the selected articles was done with the CASP appraisal tool. Data were extracted to a custom Microsoft Excel® worksheet and analysed quantitatively by percentage/frequency and qualitatively by thematic analysis of statements.

Results:  Thirty-eight records were selected. These included 30 systematic reviews and eight randomised controlled trials. Twelve intervention domains across four age groups were identified with sensory integration and social skills interventions most frequently examined. Interventions were delivered across various venues, including mediation and technology (e.g., telehealth interventions). A number of different outcome measures were used.

Conclusion: There is evidence to support the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions for autism spectrum disorder across the lifespan for twelve different domains.

Implications for practice

  • Occupational Therapists are involved in the provision of therapy intervention across all age groups for people with ASD.
  • Intervention can successfully take place in a clinic setting, but also at home or through means of technology.
  • There is growing evidence for sensory integration therapy or techniques when considering functional outcomes when treating people with ASD.
  • There is a lack of Level I and II research in the form of randomised control trials and systematic reviews regarding ASD intervention in sub-Saharan Africa.



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How to Cite

Van der Walt, J., Engelbrecht, M., Van Biljon, H. M., & Soeker, S. (2024). Occupational therapy interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders - a Rapid Review. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy, 54(1), 74–86. https://doi.org/10.17159/2310-3833/2024/vol54no1a9



Scoping, Rapid, Integrative Reviews