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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neuro-developmental disorder, which is characterised by difficulties in social communication (verbal/non verbal) which impacts social interactions, routines and repetitive behaviours, circumscribed interests, and/or sensory sensitivities.
All children diagnosed with ASD have a wide range of difficulties and abilities. Some kids and teens with ASD have very impressive skills and strengths. One child with ASD might be gifted, highly verbal and have a very good memory. Another child might be an excellent artist or a gifted visual learner or have excellent computational skills. Despite their strengths, kids and teens with ASD struggle in their social and emotional development and require ongoing intervention.
In Australia, it is estimated that one in 100 people have ASD; that’s almost 230,000 Australians. ASDs affect almost four times as many boys than girls. However, many girls do have ASD, but learn to mask their challenges through imitation and practice.
ACPC Psychology receives a high number of referrals for the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders and other related developmental conditions from various sources including Paediatricians, General Practitioners, Allied Health Professionals (Speech & Occupational Therapists) as well as schools and preschools.
The Autism Spectrum Clinic is a sub clinic of ACPC Psychology that focuses on the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (including Asperger's Syndrome). Our clinicians have extensive experience and training in providing services for preschoolers, school aged children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Our clinic ensures that we are up to date on the research and evidence based therapies within this area. Our psychologists tend to share a special interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders, and aim to deliver services reflective of their extensive experience and knowledge of ASD.
The clinic is supervised by ACPC Psychology Director & Principal Psychologist Azza Brown, who holds extensive experience in working with young children, children and adolscents and adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Similar to all referrals to our clinic, a comprehensive assessment is conducted with famiilies for the purpose of creafing an intervention plan specific to the individual needs of your child, adolescent and family. The assessment and treatment process at the Autism Specialist Clinic also includes:
At ACPC Psychology, clinicians working with children and adolescents, adopt several strategies to increase their client's attention and engagement during sessions. Not only are our clinicians competent in delivering suitable interventions that will keep our clients engaged throughout sessions, whilst keeping the treatment goals in mind, but our clinicians are also well informed of the many special interests that kids and teens with ASD may have! Thus, we develop effective rapport building with our ASD kids and teens, whilst implementing evidence based therapies which leads to maximising outcomes during our therapy sessions...
At ACPC Psychology, we are passionate about working with children with an autism spectrum presentation and their families using Functional Behavioural Analysis (FBA) principles and Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), alongside others therapies (e.g. Applied Behaviour Analysis, DIR-Floortime, Early Denver Start Model). Our treatment plans are individually tailored to assist your child's and family's needs. Our role as professionally trained therapists, is to help improve the quality of life for children with autism and their families to empower them with new ways of understanding, managing and thus reducing challenging behaviour.
Children will engage in challenging behaviour for various reasons. There is always a 'function' underlying their behaviour. Generally speaking, it may be as a way to get something good whether it be a tangible thing or a feeling, or they might do it to get away from something that they don't like or that makes them uncomfortable.
ACPC Psychology early intervention staff are committed to examining underlying reasons for challenging behaviour displayed by any child. Our therapists are trained through their qualifications on how to assess the function of a particular behaviour. Once the function of the behaviour is determined, then we look for ways to help our kids fulfil that need in a way that keeps them safe and is functional. In Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), this is referred to as a replacement behaviour. Whatever our clinicians decide to teach it would be something that we determine based on the child's strengths and preferences whilst also working with parents or guardians of the child since they know their child the best!
At ACPC Psychology, we consider the following when setting a particular treatment plan for a child:
The initial stage of investigated the underlying reasons behind the challenging behaviours is to determine whether changing such behaviour needs to be addressed in the first place. In doing so, we work collaboratively with the individual and their families to examine the nature of the behaviours and prioritising which behaviour seems to be having a significant impact on the child and family's quality of life.
The second stage is to meet with the child and learn as much as we are able to about the child in terms of their overall development (i.e. language level, play skills, temper regulation), their strengths and interests, what types of things are they really good at it and what motivates them, things that they may dislike and the types of skills that would benefit from further development and training. Such information is vital when developing the individualised treatment plan for the child and their family.
It can be difficult for a parent or guardian, being emotionally attached to their child, to determine underlying reasons to challenging behaviours displayed by their children. As trained professionals in behavioural analysis, we work on analysing particular behaviours to help the individual to learn a new way to meet their needs, and assist families in understanding and managing displayed behaviours. It is important to involve trained professionals because there are tools that they have learned about that can help identify why it is happening.
Intervention at our clinic that is based on ABA principles works on empowering the child by teaching more effective skills to get their needs met in a more functional manner. In doing so, it is necessary to observe the child's developmental level, build rapport, interact and review the child regularly during sessions at the clinic and in the preschool/school setting. This would involve working with teachers, and other therapists including speech pathologists and occupational therapists.
ABA works in the framework of "If the person we are trying to teach is not learning what we are trying to teach then we need to change how we are teaching". Reasons as to why a child may not be learning could include the possibility of selecting the wrong thing to teach; or that the skill is too hard and we need to teach the basics first prior to jumping to what the child is 'expected to know'. We therefore aim on breaking down each skill to the child's developmental level (i.e. level of understanding, readiness, temper regulation, attention/regulation etc.).
Summary Adapted from: Sarah Kupferschmidt, Autism Daily News http://www.autismdailynewscast.com/applied-behaviour-analysis-aba-challenging-behaviour/28818/guest/
The following lists a summary of services offered for families on the Autism Spectrum:
Our goal is to ensure your advocacy needs are met through the process of continuous engagement and genuine understanding of your needs