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 may present with obsessive and rigid behaviour consistent with ASD; however, PDA is proposed to…

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Frequently Asked Question: 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 many families. While assessments for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) vary, a common diagnostic tool to assess…

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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 (the ability to make transitions, tolerate change, problem-solve flexibility and switch attention); Inhibitory Control (the ability…

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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 there are three potential adaptations: the introvert, the “intensive” extrovert, and the “camouflaging” extrovert. The Introvert…

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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, and particularly dogs, provide a multitude of benefits to someone with ASD. They come…

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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 on the autism spectrum about their lives after High School.   Participants had the most…

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Research Article Review by 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 (SSD) can be misconceptualised as mutually exclusive disorders.  Similarities between both disorders can lead to misdiagnosis, especially when it comes to average-IQ adults who were not identified during childhood. …

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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 school settings. These variations can be problematic for clinicians and therapists who often use the multi-informant…

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Coping with ‘Meltdowns’ By Professor Tony Attwood, Clinical Psychologist

Those who have an ASD are prone to have a catastrophic reaction or meltdown when overly stressed, anxious or frustrated. The meltdown may be externalised, with an intense despair that manifests as an expression of anger, perhaps with destruction of property or aggression towards a person. The meltdown can also be internalised, with intense self-blame and hatred and even suicidal…

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When and How Should I Inform my Child of Their Diagnosis? by Dr Wesley Turner, Clinical Psychologist

A common question that crops up when working with children with Autism Spectrum is when and how their child should be informed of their diagnosis. Caution often needs to be had when informing children and adolescents that they are on the Autism Spectrum without first gauging their level of self-concept, anxiety and level of negative thinking. As many children on…

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