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Occupational Therapists, New Autism Center Help Children Develop Skills


Many children who are autistic or have neurological problems struggle with everyday tasks such as getting dressed, making a meal, or participating in school. Occupational Therapists work with these children to help them improve their motor skills and self confidence. April is both Autism Awareness and Occupational Therapy month. KSMU's Greg Leuthen has more on what local occupational therapists do to help children in the Ozarks.

Becky Patton spends most of her time in the new autism center at The Burrell Center for Child and Adolescent Development.

With everything from small crawling tunnels and trampolines to swings and a ball pit, the autism center at Burrell is like being at a mini-Chucky Cheese...without the pizza and video games. As an occupational therapist, Patton helps children of all ages to improve their motor skills and complete everyday tasks like tying their shoes, participating in school, and playing games with others. She explains how the activities available at Burrell help the children she works with.

Children with autism and neurological disabilities can benefit from these physical activities. Patton says that her job might look like it's all fun and games, but occupational therapists provide activities that strengthen children's core muscles.

Patton says that the development of all children is hindered by too much time spent in front of the television, and they need to be more active.

To celebrate occupational therapy month, The Burrell Center for Child and Adolescent Development is offering weekly activities for children of all ages. The program runs eight weeks and is available to any child. It will promote physical activities and playing in groups as ways to build self esteem. For more information on how to register your child, go to ksmu.org.

*To register your child for the 8 week program, "Me in Motion," call the Burrell Autism Center at (417) 269-0244. They are also looking for volunteers.