CliniKids offers a range of Speech Pathology, Psychology and Occupational Therapy services, including autism specific programs and interventions. Find out more about our services using the drop down menus below.
Clinikids offer a wide range of evidence based early interventions for children as young as 6 months. We are excited to offer therapies that are not currently being offered in Australia, and we add to the evidence based interventions we offer frequently.
In Western Australia, diagnosis for children under the age of 12 is made by a multi-disciplinary team including a paediatrician, psychologist and speech pathologist. These professionals use a range of methods to gather information about a child and their strengths and challenges to assess if they meet the criteria for autism.
How is Autism diagnosed?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-5) contains information on the diagnostic criteria for autism. Although diagnosis is always made in reference to the criteria contained within the DSM-5, currently the process of receiving the diagnosis differs in each state across Australia. The Telethon Kids Institute Autism Research Team has recently completed a large project to create a National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism. This will create a national standard for the diagnostic process as well as minimum skills and experience required for professionals involved in the diagnostic process. If the guideline is approved and recognised by Australian government departments, CliniKids will be one of the first providers to adopt it – hopefully increasing access to high quality diagnostic services and decreasing waitlist times.
What happens at the assessment?
The assessment process includes detailed discussion with the child’s primary caregivers to gain information about their early development and skills, as well as a direct assessment or observation with the child to assess the way in which they interact, engage, play and communicate. At CliniKids, our experienced psychologist and speech pathologists will work with your child’s paediatrician to complete an autism assessment and provide information on the supports your child may require. The assessment will be completed across two to three sessions in our Subiaco clinic. Our clinicians may also complete a school or child care visit to ensure they have a good understanding of your child’s skills with their peers and in a different environment.
What should I do if I am concerned about my child?
The first step in accessing an autism assessment for your child is to receive a referral from your general practitioner to see a paediatrician (unless you already see a paediatrician). Your paediatrician may then refer you for an autism diagnostic assessment. To access an autism assessment, you can choose to go through the public or private systems. Assessments through the private system will incur a fee, however there may be a shorter wait time than assessments through the public system. Your paediatrician will be able to discuss assessment options with you.
If you are concerned about your child or if you would like to access our diagnostic services, please contact us for more information.
Speech pathologists focus on developing children’s communication skills. The benefit of working with a speech pathologist is that they are specifically trained to analyse speech, language, and social communication abilities; set individualised goals; and advise on optimal treatment approaches. Parents are involved in all aspects of speech pathology sessions, and teaching parents how to help their children outside sessions is part of the process.
A range of different treatment approaches are used in speech pathology. This means the amount of structure in sessions varies according to the approach. Therapy ranges from being naturalistic and child-led through to semi-structured or highly-structured formats in some cases. Decisions about which treatment approach offers the most effective teaching depend on a child’s developmental and functional communication needs, the research evidence, and family discussions.
Our experienced Speech Pathologists provide therapy across all domains, with specialist skills in:
This is where a child struggles to learn vocabulary and use sentences as easily as their peers. Children may also have difficulties understanding questions, instructions, and stories. Some children may be verbal but still need help with their language skills. Other children may need a different communication system (e.g., pictures, signs, communication books or electronic devices).
Speech sound difficulties
This is when a child’s speech is hard to understand. Depending on age and ability, a child may be mildly unclear or may have trouble making many sounds. There are different types of speech sound disorders such as phonological disorders, articulation disorders, and childhood apraxia of speech, sometimes known as dyspraxia (difficulty with coordinated muscle movements required for speech).
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
If an individual does not possess enough verbal langauge to clearly express their thoughts, feelings and ideas, a speech pathologist may work with them to explore alterative or additional methods of communication. AAC systems can range from unaided systems such as gesture, to simple picture-based systems, all the way up to high tech communication systems or a combination of systems. Prescription and implementation of AAC systems requires input from specially trained Speech Pathologists.
The aim of Occupational Therapy is to assist each individual to become as independent as possible with everyday skills. A child may benefit from Occupational Therapy if they have difficulties in any of these areas:
Fine motor skills e.g. handwriting, cutting, using fork and knife, threading beads, tying shoe laces, doing up buttons
Gross motor skills e.g. walking, running, skipping, kicking a ball, throwing and catching, sitting in a chair, riding a bike
Play and social skills
Visual motor skills required for reading and writing
Sensory processing e.g. being sensitive (avoiding) or being under responsive (seeking) to noise, smell, light, taste, touch and/ or movement
Emotional regulation and behaviour
Skills required for school participation e.g. attention, concentration, homework
Occupational Therapists work closely with the child and parents/ carers during the process which involves the use of standardised and non-standardised assessments, goal setting, intervention and ongoing review of progress. Occupational Therapists also work in close collaboration with teachers and other health professionals.
Occupational Therapists will often work directly with the child (one on one or group therapy sessions) to develop specific skills e.g. to improve handwriting. Occupational Therapists may also work closely with the parents to assist with skills at home e.g. around mealtimes or areas of self-care by upskilling the parents/ carers. Occupational Therapists may also make recommendations around changes in the environment e.g. adapt cutlery or seating to promote independence.
Children with autism can benefit from Occupational Therapy in many ways. For example, an Occupational Therapist can help understand the sensory challenges a child may experience and adapt the environment accordingly or an Occupational Therapist may work with a child to find calming activities to help with their self-regulation. If you would like to know if your child may benefit from Occupational Therapy, please contact our team.
Here at CliniKids, we understand that raising a child with a developmental difference or autism can come with wonderful moments of joy and very unique challenges.
Our clinical psychologists have extensive experience working with children and their families to address common concerns such as anxiety, self-regulation difficulties, oppositional defiance, low mood, and aggression. We also work directly with siblings and parents to provide whole family support for any difficulties you may be facing.
Our compassionate, understanding clinical psychology team focus first on providing a safe, warm, welcoming space for you and your family to share your story, your strengths and your concerns, then work together with you to better understand what might be underlying the difficulties and develop a plan to move forward together.
The team are trained in a variety of evidence-based intervention techniques, including dyadic developmental psychotherapy, attachment based therapy, mentalisation based therapy, the interpersonal neurobiological approach, cognitive behaviour therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy.
The clinical psychology team work closely with our speech pathologists and occupational therapists to provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary service that is individualised to best suit the unique needs of your family. We offer rebated sessions through a mental health care plan, and private health rebates apply.
Contact us today to find out more about our services.