What is it
Autism is part of a group of disorders that affect a child’s development. These disorders usually become apparent early in life, and continue into adulthood. The term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is now commonly used to describe autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) which is also known as atypical autism.
Children with ASD demonstrate difficulties across 3 areas of functioning: interacting with others, communicating with others, and interests and behaviours. These children can have a very narrow, or unusual, set of interests; the exhibit behaviours that may be different to other children; and they experience difficulty coping with change. The daily experiences of children with ASD can vary enormously. Some children require high levels of support, lifelong care, and supervision. With help, other children with ASD can learn to function independently.
What does it include
A child with ASD may experience significant difficulties in the school environment, particularly in relation to learning and social interactions, and there may also be an impact on the functioning of the family household. Children may require support from a number of health professionals to meet their needs around behaviour, communication, motor skills, sensory preferences, and nutrition.
How a psychologist can help
A Psychologist is important in assessing and supporting the child who has ASD, in the following ways:
- Assessment and diagnosis: Information is gathered through interview with parents / carers and other people involved in the child’s life, observation of the child, and use of psychometric tools to provide diagnostic information. The Psychologist will collaborate with other health professionals (eg. Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Paediatrician, Psychiatrist) to ensure all domains of the child’s development are considered.
- Psychoeducation: Support to parents / carers and school staff in relation to what the diagnosis of ASD means.
- Behaviour strategies: Working alongside parents/ carers and school staff to implement child-centred routines and structure in the home and classroom to improve the child’s outcomes.
- Coping skills: Supporting the child to develop skills that may assist them to manage the symptoms of their ASD, such as building their play and social skills, self-esteem, understanding their learning styles, and learning how to better manage their behaviour.
ReferencesAPS consumer booklet on Autism
If you require additional information, please call our office on 07 3256 6320. Our mental health focused reception staff will be only too happy to assist you with your enquiry about our service and can suggest the most suitable Psychologist for your concern.