Occupational Therapy

Our team of occupational therapists at the Retreat Clinics, York, work within our Autism and ADHD service for adults.  We have a specific understanding of neurodevelopmental differences and how they may impact on your activities and occupations.

We are able to help you by using our specialist training including in-depth understanding of sensory processing.

We work within a neuro-affirmative framework, whereby our therapeutic practice affirms and embraces neurodiversity. We recognise and celebrate neurodivergence as a natural occurring variety in the human condition and not as a deficit that needs fixing. We celebrate the range of human experience and see each person we meet as a unique individual.

Our focus is on developing skills and we do not try to change who someone is or try to make Autism and ADHD fit neurotypical approaches. Any type of behaviour-based therapy used will be adapted for our neurodivergent clients.

The Retreat Clinic in York is an out-patient service, based at the Tuke Centre, off Green Dykes Lane. Our occupational therapists can either meet you in person at The Tuke Centre or online nationwide. There may, in some cases, be opportunities to access nearby facilities for some interventions.

Learn more about occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is a science-based Allied Health Profession which is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council.

Occupational therapy is about helping you to do the things you want and need to do. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable you to overcome challenges that prevent you from participating successfully in the activities and occupations that are part of your everyday life.

“An occupation is any activity that we need, want or like to do to live and to look after our physical and mental health, and our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. We do occupations from the moment we’re born, on our own or with others.”


Each and every individual we work with will have a unique set of strengths and challenges. We are here to listen to your personal story, seek to understand your experience and what is meaningful to you. We celebrate your unique strengths and will support you in finding solutions to the challenges that prevent you from fulfilling your potential.

Occupational therapy can help you live your best life.

We can enable you to develop skills and strategies, and recommend adjustments required to help you overcome barriers that you may be experiencing.

You may relate to some of the following statements:

“I enjoy my job but I’m not reaching my full potential. The office is noisy and people do not seem to understand my communication style.”

“I feel really stressed having to desk-share at work. It is disorientating, I don’t know where to put my things and I worry about ending up with the desk by the south-facing window. I find the intense light and heat distressing.”

“I’m really enjoying my university course but I often have difficulty keeping up with the lecturer. When I’m asked a question, I panic, and even though I know the answer, I can’t seem to formulate my reply in the time expected. It’s so humiliating.”

Through a holistic assessment of your needs, we can support you in finding solutions to the challenges and barriers that prevent you from participating fully in your work, study and/or volunteer role. This may include making reasonable adjustments and adaptations within your role and to your environment that help to reduce stress, anxiety, and/or sensory overload. In some circumstances, this may include meeting with your employer.

For more detailed information on reasonable adjustments:

(Click here for our  Autism Post-Diagnostic Pack)

(Click here for our ADHD Daily Support Pack)

Funding for workplace assessments

All workplace assessments are bespoke and are completed to meet the needs of the individual and the employer. Therefore, please contact us to explain what your requirements are, and we can provide you with a financial quote.

You may relate to some of the following statements:

“I often wish I could join a community group so I can meet new people but I don’t have the confidence and worry that people see me as being ‘different’.”

“I would like to be able to not rely on my Mum to take me places. I’m anxious about using the bus on my own and interacting with other people.”

“I often wake up feeling completely overwhelmed with what I have to do each day and I find it hard to organise myself and prioritise what I need to do.”

Following assessment, we can support you in the following areas:

  • Creating and maintaining healthy routines (such as sleep, meals, self-care and budgeting)
  • Developing skills that help you organise and prioritise the things you need to do in a way that reduces overwhelm
  • Exploring barriers you may experience personally or in your environment (for example, using public transport, shopping, accessing public services and leisure pursuits) and together finding ways to help you overcome these
  • Building confidence in social situations and navigating relationships
  • Signposting to other support services that may be helpful, for example, social prescribing, support groups, etc.

You may relate to some of the following statements:

“I feel anxious most of the time. I often say ‘yes’ to social events even though I don’t want to go and then I feel drained afterwards and it takes me days to recover.”

“I’ve been told I don’t show emotion and I don’t have many friends right now. I’m not doing things that normally make me feel ‘good’ so I think I’m depressed.”

“I have emotional outbursts and my anger can quickly go from 0 to 100 and I don’t know why.”

Autism and ADHD are not mental health problems but you may be experiencing things in life that impact your mental health, including stigma, discrimination and trauma. You may feel anxious from being in difficult social situations and challenging sensory environments that cause you stress. We recognise that feeling misunderstood, trying to ‘fit in’ and ‘masking’ can worsen mental health and overall quality of life.

  • Occupational therapy support may include:
  • Emotional support listening to your challenges
  • Developing skills such as mindfulness to reduce anxiety
  • Learning stress management techniques
  • Increasing interests and things that help you feel calm
  • Planning restful activities into your routine to manage stress
  • Emotional regulation and managing meltdowns and shutdowns

You may relate to some of the following statements:

“Some days I wake up and I feel like someone’s turned the volume up to full. I’m in a constant state of overwhelm from the lights and sounds when I go shopping and often have meltdowns.”

“My diagnostic assessment revealed that I have lots of sensory things going on which I want to learn more about. For example, not being able to sense when I’m hungry and thirsty.”

“I often find it difficult to concentrate when I’m wearing certain clothes. I tend to focus on the scratchy feeling of the fabric on my skin and get distressed by this.”

Sensory processing is about how our brain receives and processes sensory information so that we can do the things we need to do in our everyday life. Neurodivergent individuals commonly experience differences in their sensory processing and so a sensory processing assessment can help to understand these differences. Following this assessment, specific recommendations can be made as to what will assist an individual with their specific sensory processing needs and if required, specific interventions (often based on Sensory Integration theories) can be arranged.

Impact of sensory differences

Sensory differences can bring challenges to engaging in daily living that can affect well-being and, for some, a loss of participation completely. A sensory processing assessment will enable us to explore how your sensory processing affects you in everyday life and what potential recommendations might be helpful. Some examples of areas that might be affected by sensory processing differences are:

  • Washing and dressing
  • Organisation skills
  • Navigating skills
  • Learning or performing tasks
  • Concentration and attention levels
  • Following instructions
  • Unaware/ hyperaware of own body temperature, hunger or pain
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Extreme sensitivity to sensory experiences – sounds, smells, lights, taste, touch

What does a sensory processing assessment involve?

 The assessment usually consists of three appointments, two that form the assessment and one to go through the outcome and recommendations. There may be some cases where extra assessment appointments are required to gather all the information. In the sensory processing assessment appointments you will be asked the following:

  • A range of questions to gather information about how you experience your senses and what impact any sensory differences have on completing everyday activities.
  • You will also be asked about the development of certain skills as a child and may also complete some standardised questionnaires on your sensory experiences.
  • We also commonly ask you to complete some movement activities in order to observe how you integrate sensory information.
  • In addition, we will aim to identify any goals that you may be hoping to achieve.

We aim to share the report of the assessment with you prior to the feedback appointment. This will give you the opportunity to read it and identify any questions you may have on the results or parts of the report that you would like further clarification on. We can then go through the recommendations and explore together how you might build these into your daily activities.

We understand that seeking therapy can be daunting and that taking the first step can be challenging. All occupational therapy sessions will be adapted to your needs.

Our starting point will be to identify your specific goals and to assess how, and to what extent, your ability to perform everyday activities are impacted by the challenges you experience.

During your first session, your occupational therapist will gather information from you, and sometimes from other important people in your life too. This information is used to complete a holistic assessment of your strengths and needs.

Once the initial assessment and information-gathering has been completed, we can work together to create a support programme specifically for you. We will support you to plan and implement specific activities, strategies and skills relating to your goals that enable you to engage in the occupations that are important to you.

Get in touch about occupational therapy

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