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Encouraging the Positive in Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

By Ms Sarah Ormond, Psychologist Pathological (extreme) demand avoidance (PDA) is a term applied to patterns of complex behaviours that may be seen in some children on the autism spectrum, who often experience heightened anxiety. Children with demand avoidance may present with difficulties in social communication, social interaction, relationships, and…

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Using Thinking and Feeling Words

By Naomi Francis, Speech Pathologist In early communication development, there’s often a heavy focus on nouns (what is this?), verbs (what are they doing?), and basic concepts (is it big or little?). An area that may be overlooked is the use of “Mental State” words. These are words we use…

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Frequently Asked Questions: What is involved in an ADOS assessment?

By Ms Nicola Stigter, Provisional Psychologist Many families who make an appointment for their child, with a psychologist or specialist for a diagnostic assessment for Autism Spectrum Condition, are unsure of what to expect and how to prepare ahead of time. It can be a confusing and overwhelming time for…

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Gifted Children on the Spectrum – How Can We Support Them?

by Dr Wesley Turner, Clinical Psychologist Often, ASD individuals who are also Gifted present with a combination of cognitive abilities and executive function difficulties that result in a ‘perfect storm’ that negatively impacts on academic and social performance. Typically, their neurocognitive profiles include discrepancies in the following areas: Cognitive Flexibility…

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Adaptations to Autism

By Professor Tony Attwood, Clinical Psychologist One of the central characteristics of autism in DSM 5 is a deficit in social communication and social interaction. The social and interpersonal aspects of life are a challenge, so how does the person who has autism adapt to these challenges? Clinical experience suggests…

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Dogs Supporting Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

by Toneya Ashby, Psychologist There is a growing body of research exploring the positive impact of dogs (and indeed a variety of other domestic animals) on individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Many individuals on the Autism Spectrum will describe or be observed to possess a natural affinity with animals. Animals,…

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Finding Friends

By Sonya Blandford, Psychologist Having one or more 'good' friends can prevent loneliness and increase mental health. Many children with ASD can struggle to make connections with people they like to spend enjoyable time with. A study by Sosnowy, C et al conducted a semi-structured interview with 20 young adults…

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Research Article Review

Dr Michelle Garnett, Clinical Psychologist Prevalence of Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders in Average-IQ Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Meta-analysis Lugo Marin, J et al. (2018). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (2018), Vol. 48, pp 239-250 Since their separation as independent conditions, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders…

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Equine Therapy

By Radhika Tanksale, Clinical Psychologist The use of complementary and alternative treatment approaches in the area of autism is growing. Animal-assisted intervention is an adjunctive treatment approach. In my opinion, many children on the autism spectrum have a natural affinity to animals. Additionally, animals are non-judgmental, are a calming presence,…

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Parent and Teacher Agreement of Behaviour Problems in Children on the Autism Spectrum: A summary of a research article

By Ms Lizaan Schwartz, Provisional Psychologist Behavioural and emotional difficulties, including anxiety, depression, aggression, oppositional, and attention difficulties are highly prevalent in children on the autism spectrum (Kanne et al., 2009; Ung et al., 2013). These difficulties affect children’s quality of life and daily functioning, and vary across home and…

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