What does an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) mean to Susanne Nelson & Associates?

There is so much information about ASD on the Internet today and numerous books and resources available for parents, professionals and others wanting to learn more on this area. It can be a very overwhelming experience for those families who have just been told their child has an “Autism Spectrum Disorder”. Finding professionals and support people who really understand ASD is one of the most important first steps in yours and your child’s journey. Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders and working with autistic individuals, is Susanne’s passion and has been since she was a 19 year-old, when she first met a young single mother with three children who all had an ASD. Susanne continues to hold this passion and commitment in assisting children and their families to see ASD as a gift and a special difference. Using a strengths based approach, further developing their areas of improvement to maximise their independence and performance in their everyday activities.

SNAA's therapy focus for autistic children

So many of us describe ASD as a linear concept with what we consider ‘lower functioning, severe autistic on one extreme’, and ‘higher functioning or the old term, Asperger's Syndrome, or mild autism’ on the other extreme. It is such a misleading and confusing concept to think if someone is ‘lower functioning’ or severely autistic, that the individual may not have strengths and areas of their development they are capable of achieving, so in other words, incapable of not doing much at all. At the so called ‘higher functioning’ end, it assumes that the individual are ‘less autistic’, and therefore can cope with so much more and as such, higher expectations can be placed upon them. If we consider ASD as a spectrum in a spherical format instead, and see everyone having areas of development within their brains that are considered as strengths and areas for improvement, we can respect each individual as just that, individuals with strengths and areas of improvement. Like everyone else, each autistic individual will have a set of traits that are positioned in different areas of the spectrum. They may have strengths that are useful in life such as perception, and traits that create difficulty, such as social communication, that will need support. We need understand what ASD is, but more importantly, understand what ASD is for that individual child. To help us do this, the SNAA therapist focuses on facilitating the team’s understanding of your child’s occupational profile. An occupational profile incorporates holistic information about a child, and provides information about how ASD can impact on that child and their ability to assume various roles within both their home and within the community. It includes information about what the child can do, their interests and strengths and also information about how their ASD can impact on certain developmental areas. They focus on learning about your child’s occupational profile, which includes their interests, hobbies, strengths and weaknesses and all areas of their development. SNAA Therapists' initial focus is to build the rapport and therapeutic relationship with your child to help them learn more about how they interpret and process this world. We then aim to develop a long-term relationship with your child, acting as their mentor and advocate where required. This as well as with your support and knowledge of your child, SNAA’s Therapists then use this information to assist the adults surrounding your child to understand his/ her needs, wants and personality. At the core of the SNAA Therapy model is to ensure the SNAA Therapists are always addressing and monitoring the below three areas:

  • Your child’s self esteem
  • How calm they are
  • Their sense of security in their educational / home environment
We see and believe in the potential that every child has and work hard with you, your family and the educational staff surrounding your special boy or girl in assisting them to fulfil their potential.

Skill development for autistic children

SNAA Therapists take pride in their knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorders. We understand the difficulties your child may have in the following areas of their development:

  • Social and emotional skills

  • Language and the social use of language

  • Flexible thinking and adaptive behaviours

  • Sensory processing

  • Routines, rituals and self care activities

  • Play and motor skills

With this knowledge and understanding of how having an ASD can impact on your child’s development and their roles as a child, sibling, student, friend, etc, we strive to assist you and those surrounding your child to understand and appreciate the ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘what to do’! Examples include learning how to teach your child to:

  • Greet someone appropriately

  • Sit quietly in a classroom setting to listen to a teacher and participate in the curriculum

  • Have a go at a boring, hard or non-preferred task

  • Cope when change occurs and learning that something different can be a good thing

  • Share or wait for a turn when playing with a friend/ sibling

  • Know how to enter or exit play appropriately with a group of peers/ friends

  • How to cope when expectations are not met or when they don’t get their own way

  • Be independent in their self care activities

  • Know what to do when something doesn’t feel, move, smell, taste, see or hear the right way

  • Articulate their emotions and thoughts to another person

  • Calm their bodies when stressed

Further Information

For diagnostic criteria (information regarding the new DSM V criteria for ASD) and ASD information for theory, definitions and support, please click on the below links: Amaze Diagnosis of ASD (Amaze) ASD research (Autism CRC)
A National Guideline for the Assessment and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Australia
Raising Children’s Network - ASD Evidence-based interventions for autistic children

About Autism Spectrum Disorder


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