What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are lifelong developmental disabilities characterised by:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction:
    • abnormal social approach and one-way communication
    • reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect
    • a lack of interest in social relationships
    • abnormal eye contact and non-verbal communication
    • a lack of facial expressions
    • difficulties in imaginative play or making friends
  • Restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours
    • repetitive motor movements such as flapping hands
    • lines up toys, insists on “sameness”
    • adheres to strict routines and insists on “sameness”
    • copes poorly with change in routine
    • fixated interests with intense focus and preoccupation with objects.
  • Hyper or hypo sensory sensitivities
    • indifference to pain and temperature
    • adverse responses to specific sounds or textures
    • excessive smelling or touching of objects
    • visual fascination with lights or movement

What is ADHD and ADD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is characterised by 6 or more symptoms of inattention AND 6 or more symptoms of hyperactivity. Attention Deficit Disorder is characterised by 6 or more inattentive symptoms only and is not accompanied by elevated hyperactivity symptoms.

Symptoms of Inattention:

  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
  • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
  • Is often easily distracted
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities.

Symptoms of Hyperactivity:

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
  • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
  • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
  • Often talks excessively.
  • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
  • Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

How do I know if my child has Autism or ADHD?

If you identified your child as having some of the symptoms listed above, it is recommended that you speak to your GP for further individualised assessment. Your GP may refer you to a paediatrician and a psychologist, whom will work together to determine if your child would meet diagnostic criteria, and if not, what could be other possible causes behind the behaviours your child is exhibiting . The effects of ASD and ADHD can often be minimised by early diagnosis and with the right interventions, many children and adults with these disorders can show marked improvements.

How can we help?

Having a child challenged by developmental delays, an inability to understand social conventions, prone to emotional outbursts, or is hyperactive and/or inattentive can be very demanding and stressful for parents and family members. It can be just as confusing as it is over-whelming. Often when we meet with parents with these struggles, they have tried every parenting trick in the book without much success. At CBT Professionals, we have been successfully working with parents and children to improve child and family day-to-day functioning and we have a number of Gold Coast child psychologists who can help your family understand your child’s behaviour and most importantly, how to support you and your child.

What is involved in a diagnostic assessment?

An assessment involves meeting firstly with our recommended child psychologists for an initial interview to gather background information and determine the assessment requirements. The child psychologist will then interview the child and other important adults such as childhood educators and teachers and will complete structured observations of the child in their natural environment and at one of our Gold Coast psychology clinics. You will be asked to complete a number of standardised questionnaires to aide diagnosis and to identify the child’s strengths and difficulties. A report is prepared to assist your paediatrician in making the final diagnosis and a treatment management plan is drawn up as part of the report recommendations.

What does treatment involve?

Psychological treatment for ADHD and Autism is aimed at individual skills building and assisting parents to manage any social, emotional, or behavioural difficulties that their child may be experiencing in the home or at school. This includes:

  • Social skills training
  • Emotion skills training including learning to manage difficult feelings including anger, anxiety and depression
  • Toileting and self-care problems
  • Tantrums and behavioural issues
  • Communication issues
  • Sensory issues
  • Implementing routines, structure, and time-management aides

How to get started

  • Make an appointment with your GP to discuss your concerns further
  • Give us a call today and we can make a booking with one of our experienced child psychologists