Section 3.2

Key Practice Models

Since the advent of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) (WHO, 2001) occupational therapists have used the ICF to understand the impact of health conditions on individuals’ body structures and functions, activities and participation. In addition, the ICF reminds therapists to consider the personal and environmental factors that may support or hinder the person’s functioning. Because of the wide-ranging nature of ASD, each child’s set of skills and challenges will be unique while the demands of the environment and the tasks required to be carried out will be very individual.

Occupational therapy theorists also describe models of occupational therapy as encompassing the person, the environment and the task/occupation. These models describe the domain of concern of occupational therapy (i.e. where our unique expertise lies). However, they do not provide sufficient detail about how to intervene with children with ASD. Consequently, occupational therapists also utilise certain frames of reference or practice models to guide how they assess and intervene with children and their families. There are many frames of reference (sometimes referred to as practice models) which guide occupational therapy practice and which can form a sound basis for assessment and intervention. Dunn outlined five such frames of reference (Dunn, 2000).

Occupational Therapy Models

These models describe the domain of concern of occupational therapy (i.e. where our unique expertise lies) such as Dunn’s ecological model (Dunn, Brown, & McGuigan, 1994); Person Environment Occupation (Law, et al., 1996), Person Environment Occupation Performance (PEOP) (Baum et al., 2005) and the Occupational Performance Model (Australia) (Chapparo & Ranka, 1996).

Frames of Reference or Practice Models

Dunn outlined five such frames of reference (Dunn, 2000)

(1)  Developmental/Acquisitional Practice Model

(2)  Sensory Processing Practice Model

(3)  Coping Practice Model

(4)  Behavioural Practice Model

(5)  Cognitive Practice Model

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