The South Lee Autism Service is a child and family centred service that works collaboratively to support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families to understand ASD and the influence it may have on themselves and their family.
The Social Worker is a member of the multi-disciplinary team and is a contact between Marian House and the family. Their role is as follows:
- Aims to provide on-going support to the children’s families/carers and siblings.
- Provide a counselling and advice service to families, to help them with practical, emotional and social needs.
- Facilitate groups for parents and children, siblings and parent support groups. i.e. Being Well; Incredible Years; Parent Support and Information Nights; Drop in Support Evenings.
- A limited home support service is available (see Home Support page). Further information and referrals can be made through the Social Work department.
- Provide information on entitlements and financial supports and options available to children and families with the aim of enhancing the quality of lives.
- Inform families about a range of supports and services in the community i.e. Summer Camps, July Provision, Home Help.
- To liaise with service providers regarding unmet and future needs. e.g. Family supports, respite care etc. Activities that are important and meaningful to children and their families may include:
The Occupational Therapist enables a child to do what they want to do or need to do as part of their daily routine at home and in school.
Activities that are important and meaningful to children and their families may include:
- Play and Leisure
- Self-Care (e.g. Dressing, Hygiene, Independent Feeding Skills, Toileting, Sleeping)
- School based activities
- Accessing and participation in the wider community (e.g. Sports Groups, Clubs, Going to the Shops, Going to the Playground)
Some children with ASD experience difficulties with these activities. The Occupational Therapist will work with the child, their family and their school to problem solve what may be impacting upon the child’s ability to carry out these daily functional activities. The Occupational Therapist will specifically look at how the following areas are affecting the child’s participation:
- Movement and Coordination
- Sensory Processing (how our body takes in and processes information from our environment)
- Environmental Factors (e.g. busy classroom environments, seating, access to assistive technology)
The overall aim of Occupational Therapy is to help build children’s independence in daily activities and empower families and teachers to support children as part of this process.
Early intervention is what every new parent does with their child from the moment they are born. Sitting in front of them, singing, chatting to them and basically playing with teaching and being a good role model for their child. However when your child is diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder you may find traditional ways of engaging with your little one are not as effective and you may need some guidance and help from an Early Intervention Therapist who will work together with you and your little one in finding ways that help you motivate, engage with and teach your child.
You will perhaps be shown different ways to communicate and encourage your child to engage with you by changing how you communicate and respond to your child’s behaviours, how you teach and underpin new skills and how you expand your child’s ability to play and use their social imagination. In many ways Early Intervention Therapy leans on other therapies such as S.L.T, O.T. and Psychology to help you work with your child.
The main objective of home support is to provide a social and recreational experience for your child to enjoy being themselves while learning new social cues, while allowing family an opportunity for some ‘time out’ to spend with other family members.
Home support provides your child with a fun opportunity to access age appropriate activities within the community while enhancing your child’s social and emotional skills, through prompting, mentoring and helping the child’s understanding of social situations in which they find themselves. Home support may be provided in a 1:1 capacity between the home support worker and your child or in a paired or group setting with peers of similar age and interests. This all enables the home support worker aid the enhancement of your child’s independence and social skills.
Speech & Language Therapy
The Speech & Language Therapist is a core member of the South Lee Autism Service. This includes assessment, diagnosis and intervention to individuals with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The role of the Speech & Language Therapist includes:
- ensuring that the individual with ASD has an effective means of communicating their needs, wants and feelings
- supporting family members, carers and relevant professionals to use effective means of communication with the individual with ASD
- working as part of the multi-disciplinary team that diagnoses ASD
- further developing people’s understanding of ASD by providing relevant information and support & further developing the use of strategies that maximize the child’s language skills and independence
Where possible and depending on resources, the Speech & Language Therapist works collaboratively with the individual, family, school staff and any other Multi-Disciplinary colleagues involved with the individual.
“Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and how it dictates and influences our behaviour, from communication and memory to thought and emotion”
(British Psychological Society, https://www.bps.org.uk/public/DiscoverPsychology)
Psychologists in the Autism Service (South Lee) apply evidence-based knowledge and knowledge-based evidence to support children, young people and their families in managing difficulties arising from, and relating to, autism spectrum disorder so the child / young person can optimise their full potential.
As part of the ASD team, psychologists complete: assessment, intervention, training and research/evaluation.
- Together with members from the other disciplines, psychologists carry out diagnostic assessments to determine if a child / young person is presenting with an autism spectrum disorder or if they are presenting with other difficulties.
They may carry out a range of other assessments to:
- Help assess learning potential
- Investigate the causes of problematic behaviour patterns
- Evaluate and support emotional and social skill development
- Evaluate adaptive skill levels.
- The psychologist can also help determine if a child is presenting with higher than typical levels of stress or anxiety or lower than typical mood levels to see if onward referral to a specialist mental health service is warranted.
Intervention and Training:
Psychologists on the team take a contextual approach to empowering children / young people and their families.
- They provide support to foster awareness and understanding of ASD and how it presents in each individual. Helping children and young people with issues around identity and self-esteem is an important feature of this work.
Psychologists employ a range of strategies to foster development of:
- Emotional regulation
- Theory of mind skills e.g. helping children/young people to see the world from other people’s perspectives.
- Social skills development
- Interventions to support positive behaviours.
- They are involved in training around emotional development, supporting children through environmental adaptations, autism awareness, etc.
- Interventions to support learning.
Psychologists engage in research and evaluation to ensure that an evidence-base underpins their work. Recent research undertaken by psychologists in the service includes:
- A support group for parents of children on a waiting list for an assessment for autism spectrum disorder
- Parents’ perspectives on the value of assistance dogs for children with autism spectrum disorder: a cross-sectional study
- Experiences of parents whose children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are starting primary school
- “…a huge hurdle”: Parental Experiences of disclosing a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to their child
- What can we learn from the experiences from a special autism class attached to a mainstream post primary school?
- WISC-IVUK profiles of children with autism spectrum disorder in a specialist autism service