Our expert therapists offer individual support to help children and young people develop the skills needed in everyday life. Many of our therapists have completed specialised training programs designed to support children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis and their families. This training includes the Early Start Denver Model, DIR Floortime, Irabina’s parenting children with ASD program, and play therapy.
Therapy services can be based at one of our centres, at your home or in a community setting (e.g. childcare or kindergarten). Centre-based services are 50 minutes in duration and home- or community-based sessions are 60 minutes (not including travel time). The frequency of therapy is determined by your family in collaboration with the therapist. As your needs change over time, therapists will work with you to continually assess progress and make recommendations about which services will help continue to achieve the best results.
YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICE SUPPORT
A youth and family service worker is focussed on supporting young people with autism and their families by helping the child generalise the skills learnt at the clinic into their community. The objective will be to ensure that the young person is able to implement these skills in their home, school and out in their broader community.
The youth and family service worker can also assist young people with autism by providing close monitoring and support in the community ensuring that the positive outcomes of therapy are sustained in the long term.
Engaging a youth worker helps provides families with greater assurance that the success had within our programs is carried into their child’s future, by focusing on essential personal independence, social, and vocational skills.
Speech pathologists support people to improve their communication skills. This includes skills such as speaking, listening, understanding language, reading, writing, socialisation, fluency and using voice to communicate. Many of our speech pathologists have completed specialised training programs, including the Early Start Denver Model and DIR Floortime, to help children or young people with ASD communicate to the best of their ability.
Each child or young person will have different goals to support their unique needs. For example, one person may have no spoken language skills and may not appear to respond when spoken to, whereas another person may have good spoken language skills but have difficulty with conversations, making friends, knowing how to interact with others, and explaining feelings.
Children and young people with ASD commonly benefit from learning how to:
– express themselves using gestures, pictures/symbols or words
– pronounce sounds and words clearly
– put words into sentences
– use an appropriate volume, pitch and voice quality
– fluently answer questions, carry on conversations and tell stories
– develop pretend play skills, so they can play with their peers at pre-school and school
– communicate in a socially appropriate manner (this may include asking for help rather than screaming or throwing toys, getting a peer’s attention before talking to them, interrupting appropriately and/or staying on topic).
Speech pathology includes individual therapy, working in small groups as part of an interdisciplinary team and as part of the diagnosis process, and may include giving advice, education and support to families and other professionals in the home, school or workplace.
As part of our feeding clinic, speech pathologists also work with children and young people who experience difficulties swallowing drinks and/or chewing and swallowing food.
Occupational therapists work with children and young people, and their families, to achieve their goals and support them to participate in their everyday activities, referred to here as ‘occupations’. Many of our occupational therapists have completed specialised training programs, including the Early Start Denver Model, to better assist children and young people with ASD.
Many children and young people with ASD have sensory processing difficulties, such as sensitivity to or a strong interest in certain textures, noises and smells. This can impact their ability to participate in many daily occupations.
Daily occupations for young children may include:
– independence skills – dressing, feeding, toileting and sleeping
– play – this may involve motor skills such as running, jumping, hopping, climbing, drawing, writing, cutting, and manipulating toys such as Duplo, wooden blocks and stringing beads
– kindergarten or school activities – playing with others, drawing, painting, taking turns, pretend play, opening their lunch box, putting on and taking off shoes and socks, being organised, imitating actions, lining up, sitting and listening.
Our occupational therapists also provide education and support to other health professionals such as teachers and childcare educators. They can provide individual therapy, and therapy within group programs.
AQUATIC OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
Aquatic occupational therapy is water-based therapy that assists children and young people to develop their motor skills, communication and interaction skills. Young people develop comfort and safety in the water, in an environment that is less noisy and overwhelming than a public pool.
The program runs for 30 minutes once per week, or for an intensive four-day program during school holidays. The program is run by an occupational therapist with an AUSTSWIM certification.
Psychologists are trained to observe people’s behaviours, thoughts and emotions, and how they respond to different situations. Our psychologists give advice and support to families and other professionals and provide individual behaviour management and psychology therapy.
Many of our psychologists have completed specialised training programs, including Applied Behaviour Analysis, the Early Start Denver Model, parenting children with ASD program, and play therapy, to better assist young people with ASD, and their families.
Psychologists can assist with:
– Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis
– intellectual assessments and adaptive functioning assessments
– understanding functions of behaviours
– developing a behaviour management plan with practical strategies
– managing anxiety and emotions
– social skills related to making and keeping friends
– conversation skills
– understanding feelings.
We also provide emotional and educational support for families through services such as parent and sibling counselling.
Behaviour analysts develop and supervise programs for children and young people with ASD. They use their understanding of behaviour principles to help young people learn new skills and reduce unwanted behaviours. This is also known as Applied Behaviour Analysis or ABA. Our behaviour analysts are Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (BCBA) or psychologists with a background in behaviour analysis. Our behaviour therapies are administered by qualified behaviour therapists and are closely supervised by our behaviour analysts.
Our behaviour analysts develop programs for children and young people that are delivered individually or within small groups. Individual and small-group programs run for 3 hours. Families are strongly encouraged to have behaviour interventions provided across a range of settings including at the centre as well as at home or other community settings (e.g. childcare or kindergarten).
Our behaviour analysts design programs based on the family and young person’s goals. This may include focussing on:
– behaviour and coping skills
– communication skills
– social skills
– academic skills
– daily living skills
– self-regulation and understanding emotions.
EARLY START DENVER MODEL
The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is an early intervention program designed for children with ASD. The program is a set of strategies linked to typical skills used in an early learning centre or at home.
We provide individual ESDM therapy, which is tailored to your specific lifestyle and required skill development. The strategies are best applied to everyday activities, such as when children are playing, having their meals, getting dressed, and interacting with other people.
ESDM aims to reduce the symptoms of ASD across all developmental areas, using teaching strategies that involve:
– positive interactions with others
– shared engagement with real-life materials and activities
– adult responsivity and sensitivity to child cues
– a focus on verbal and non-verbal communication
– naturalistic applied behavioural analytic strategies
– sensitivity to normal developmental sequence
– deep parental involvement
– focus on interpersonal exchange and positive affect
– shared engagement with joint activities
– language and communication taught inside a positive, affect-based relationship.
ESDM is an individual therapy that can be delivered at the centre, or at your child’s home or early learning centre.
Recommended age: 12 months to 5 years