Autism Diagnosis and Support Services
My assessments are tailored to the needs of the young person or adult and I choose the diagnostic tools that are most appropriate. I like to gather as much information as possible from people who know the individual well; this will include questionnaires, a developmental history, an ADOS, as well as observations in the school or home setting. Reports from other professionals such as speech and language therapists, cognitive and educational reports will also be requested. If additional assessments are needed my service can offer an independent Speech and Language assessment and a Cognitive assessment from qualified and experienced clinicians. My assessments will indicate whether there are any co-occurring problems which would benefit from further assessment such as ADHD and sensory issues.
- The DISCO – The Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communications Disorders, is a National Autistic Society accredited diagnostic assessment. The DISCO uses a detailed and semi-structured interview to collect information concerning all aspects of an individual’s strengths, weaknesses and atypical behaviour. It is designed to elicit a picture of the whole person throughout the story of their development and behaviour. It can assist in identifying conditions often associated with the spectrum such as ADHD and dyspraxia.
- The 3DI - developmental dimensional diagnostic interview, is a highly structured computer based developmental assessment that asks a range of questions about a person’s childhood development and current functioning. It looks not only at Autism Spectrum Conditions, but also considers whether a range of related issues (e.g. ADHD and language difficulties) might overlap with Autistic Spectrum conditions or provide a better overall explanation for a person's difficulties.
- The ADOS – Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule uses semi structured activities and conversations to provide opportunities to observe and understand the behaviours, strengths and difficulties in social communication, interaction and play that are important for diagnosis.
Therapeutic interventions and support
Individuals with autism typically suffer from heightened levels of anxiety and low self esteem which may lead to mental health problems such as depression, ocd, extreme demand avoidance and in some cases eating disorders. The impact of autism on the family can be considerable and parents and siblings may need support in addition to support for the individual.
Some of the difficulties I can help with include:
- Depression, low mood and low self esteem.
- Anxiety problems such as social and performance anxiety
- Anger management and emotional regulation
- Relationship issues such as peer problems, sibling and family conflict.
- Parent-child relationship such as breakdown in communication.
- Bullying issues such as resilience, recovery and self-confidence.
- Parenting such as developing strategies and consistency.
Individuals with autism can feel overwhelmed by the complex demands of life and often need a time and place to off load and practice strategies to cope and de-stress. They may benefit from having a more therapeutic space to work on their anxiety and their sense of themselves. For individuals who find it hard to communicate, expression through drawing, painting, writing and play can be helpful. Individual sessions are usually around 50 minutes, this can be weekly or less frequently depending on the individual’s needs and family circumstances.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
CBT can help individuals to identify their thoughts and feelings and understand what triggers unhelpful behaviours. Through challenging rigid patterns of thinking and habits CBT can enable alternative, balanced thoughts and responses to develop. CBT can also help individuals to develop strategies for regulating their emotions and improving their lifestyles.
In my CBT sessions I use a range of approaches and materials including mindfulness, drawing and painting, visual aids and diagrams, rating scales, books, educational videos and relevant online material.
It can be helpful for a parent or carer to participate in the CBT sessions in order to encourage and support the individual to practice and maintain the changes at home.
CBT sessions are usually between 4-10 sessions and can be weekly or fortnightly depending on the individual’s needs.
Parent Advice and Support
I offer a confidential, safe and non-judgmental space for you to talk about your child, family and parenting issues. I work closely with you to enable you to become confident and effective in managing challenging behaviour and emotional issues at home. I provide advice, support, strategies and links to other services and support groups in the community. See Add-vance for support groups and parenting courses.
I provide an opportunity for families to think together, to identify core issues, enhance understanding and communication and develop effective strategies for managing conflict. I encourage families to explore a range of strategies to improve their wellbeing, such as increasing positive feedback, setting goals, maintaining boundaries, using mindfulness, relaxation techniques and improving health and fitness.
For information about my counselling service click here
Can I help?
If you would like to make an appointment or discuss your concerns with me in order to decide whether I am the right service for you, please contact me by email or phone 07931 950514 or use my contact page. More details of where I work, fees etc can be found on the Contact page.