Supporting Autism

For many families, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be an overwhelming word initially and we are here to help families through the process of getting a diagnosis and working out which types of supports are needed from birth through adulthood.

Once diagnosed with autism, the journey can begin for the whole family to learn to manage and support a person with autism spectrum disorder in a positive and proactive way throughout their whole life.

The Chatterbox team have an outstanding background in supporting autism. We have a range of services available, including diagnosis, family support and ensuring multiple agencies work together for the right solutions for your child. We provide speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, a Playschool, tutoring, socials skills groups and clubs for people with autism.

Each person with autism is different and we will discuss with you the best solutions and supports for your family, based on assessment of strengths and weaknesses.

We do not believe in a one size fits all method of providing services, which is why we offer a full range of diagnosis, supports, teaching strategies and therapies.

Come in and have a chat with us, to find out more.

About Autism

As a parent or caregiver, it is useful to learn the early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching at each age.

Developmental Milestones.

Understanding your child’s development can feel quite daunting – a good place to start is this checklist, which helps outline a range of milestones and what you can do to help your child: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/checklists/Checklists-with-Tips_Reader_508.pdf

Children with autism have symptoms from a very young age, beginning before the age of three. Some children with ASD have difficulty with eye contact, social language development and use atypical behaviours within the first few months of life. Other children appear to follow expected developmental milestones until 18–24 months, then either stop gaining new skills or lose some they have already developed. While every child develops differently, we also know that early identification and intervention improves outcomes significantly.

The following “red flags” may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder.

  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • No response to name by 12 months
  • Loss of speech, or delayed speech and language skills
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by 9 months
  • Has difficulty talking about feelings of their own or other people’s feelings
  • No spontaneous play of “pretend” games (such as pretend feed a doll) by 18 months
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Gets upset by minor changes in routine or environment
  • Has obsessive interests
  • Demonstrates hand flapping, body rocking, or spinning in circles
  • Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel

If you have any concerns about any of these areas, then please give us a call and arrange a chat with us about how we can help.

ADOS-2 Autism Testing

How can I determine if my child meets criteria for Autism?

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2) is a semi-structured, standardised assessment of communication, social interaction, play/imaginative use of materials, and restricted and repetitive behaviours for individuals who have been referred because of possible autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The ADOS-2 is a revision of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, which has been referred to as the “gold standard” observational assessment for diagnosing ASD.

Children as young as 12-months, regardless of verbal ability, can be assessed using the ADOS-2.

Why is an accurate diagnosis necessary?

Through obtaining an accurate diagnosis, individuals and families can begin to access appropriate intervention services, obtain individualised communication and educational programs, and determine patterns of strengths and weaknesses at the current developmental level.

Determining an accurate diagnosis is a first step for a clinician in defining a treatment plan for a child.

The ADOS-2 is not a cognitive assessment; it is designed to measure atypical development in the areas of social interaction, communication, and imaginative use of materials.

The ADOS-2 provides useful information for parents and teachers about specific behaviours in social communication and creative play that can help guide treatment plans, therapy options and how a child can be supported in different environments.

The results of the ADOS-2 result in a classification, not a diagnosis by itself, but it is a useful standardised tool for assisting in making clinical diagnoses for both children and adults.

Results can be shared with parents, educators, therapists, psychologists and the family doctor or paediatrician and we ensure that a team approach to diagnosis is always used.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch to find out how we can help you on 949 7065 or 926 1693 or chatterbox@candw.ky

Specialist Feeding Clinic

We understand that having a child who does not eat well is very stressful for parents and carers and this is why we offer a specialist feeding clinic.

It is run by our speech and language therapist and occupational therapist, using the SOS Approach to Feeding. The SOS (Sequential-Oral-Sensory) Approach to Feeding Program was developed by Dr. Kay Toomey and is used worldwide to treat feeding issues in infants, children, and adolescents. For more information about SOS Approach to Feeding, visit the Toomey & Associates – SOS Approach to Feeding website.

Assessment and Treatment Using the SOS Approach to Feeding

The Sequential Oral Sensory (S.O.S.) Approach to feedings is a multi-disciplinary program for assessing and treating children with feeding difficulties and weight/growth problems from birth to 18 years.

It integrates posture, sensory, motor, behavioral/learning, medical and nutritional factors to comprehensively evaluate and manage children with feeding/growth problems.

It is based on, and grounded philosophically in, the “normal” developmental steps, stages and skills of feeding found in typically developing children. The treatment component of the program utilises these typical developmental steps towards feeding to create a systematic desensitisation hierarchy of skills/behaviours necessary for children to progress with eating various textures, and with growing at an appropriate rate for them.

The SOS Approach focuses on increasing a child’s comfort level by exploring and learning about the different properties of food. The program allows a child to interact with food in a playful, non-stressful way, beginning with the ability to tolerate the food in the room and in front of him/her; then moving on to touching, kissing, and eventually tasting and eating foods.

The assessment component of the program makes sure that all physical reasons for atypical feeding development are examined and appropriately treated medically.

The therapy sessions are offered in 12 weeks blocks of therapy and parents are involved in the sessions, so they can learn skills to help their children to enjoy eating.

Does my child need feeding therapy?

The following are considered to be “red flags” for feeding disorders and children presenting with any of these symptoms may benefit from our specialist feeding clinic;

Ongoing poor weight gain or weight loss

Ongoing choking, gagging or coughing during meals

Ongoing problems with vomiting

More than once incident of nasal reflux

History of a traumatic choking incident

History of eating and breathing coordination problems, with ongoing respiratory issues

Parents reporting child as being “picky” at 2 or more well child checks

Unable to transition to baby food purees by 10 months of age

Unable to accept any table food solids by 12 months of age

Unable to transition from breast/bottle to a cup by 16 months of age

Has not weaned off baby foods by 16 months of age

Aversion or avoidance of all foods in specific texture or nutrition group

Food range of less than 20 foods, especially if foods are being dropped over time with no new foods replacing those lost

An infant who cries and/or arches at most meals

Family is fighting about food and feeding – meal times are “battles”

Parent repeatedly reports that the child is difficult for everyone to feed

Parental history of an eating disorder, with a child not meeting weight goals (parents not causing the problem, but may be more stressed and in need of extra supports)

To make an appointment contact us on 949 7065 or chatterbox@candw.ky