World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day
World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day

In 2007, The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. It’s aim is to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life for those with autism which should not prevent anyone from leading a full and meaningful life within society.

2024’s theme for Autism Awareness Day is “Moving from Surviving to Thriving“. In order to raise awareness, it’s important to first understand the different types of autism. With every individual’s experience being unique, learning the different types of autism – including the causes, symptoms and treatments associated – is not only helpful but essential to developing successful treatment plans that can be tailored specifically for your loved one.

“Autism can’t define me. I define autism.” – Dr. Kerry Magro, Award Winning Speaker on Autism and Neurodiversity.

What are the Causes?

Autism and heart jigsaw and Understanding the Different Types of Autism

The exact cause of Autism is not known, but research suggests a combination of genetic and environmental factors may play a role in its development.

Some risk factors include a family history of Autism, genetic mutations, and prenatal exposure to certain toxins.

What are the Symptoms?

Boy and puzzle and Understanding the Different Types of Autism

Symptoms of Autism can vary, but common signs include difficulties in social interaction, communication challenges, and repetitive behaviors.

Children with Autism may also have sensory issues, such as being sensitive to noise or light.

What are the Treatments?

Autism and treatments and Understanding the Different Types of Autism

It’s crucial for individuals with Autism to receive support from a multidisciplinary team of professionals, including paediatricians, psychiatrists, and therapists.

Families and caregivers can also benefit from support groups and educational resources.

How You Can Celebrate World Autism Awareness Day

– Promote understanding and acceptance of the Autistic community within your friend and family circles.
– Organise an activity or day out for the Autistic person in your life.
– Educate yourself by reading books or watching a video relating to Autism or Autistic people’s experiences.

World Autism Awareness Day

The Different Types of Autism

Classic Autism

Classic autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or Kanner’s syndrome, is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Classic autism affects communication, social interaction and behavior. It’s seen as a range of conditions as it can have an effect on people in different ways and may show up differently in each individual.

Common Symptoms of Classic Autism:

  • Delays with language development.
  • Difficulty with social interaction.
  • Repetitive behaviours or routines.

Treatment includes behavioral management therapy and cognitive behavior therapy depending on the needs. In Ireland, there are a variety of resources available for individuals and families affected by classic autism. The HSE provides a range of services, including assessments, diagnosis, and support for children and adults with ASD. There are several non-profit organisations such as Autism Ireland, AsIAm, and the Irish Society for Autism that provide information, advocacy, and support for those on the autism spectrum.

World Autism Awareness Day

1 in 65 or 1.5%, of the school-going population in Ireland, has a diagnosis of Autism.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

PDD-NOS is a term used to describe a group of disorders characterised by delays in socialisation and communication skills. It’s considered a milder form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). People with PDD-NOS often display symptoms of ASD but do not meet the criteria for a specific diagnosis of Autism, Asperger Syndrome, or another pervasive developmental disorder.

Common Symptoms of PDD-NOS:

  • Delayed language development.
  • Difficulty with social interactions.
  • Repetitive behaviours.

However, the symptoms of PDD-NOS can vary widely from person to person, making it difficult to diagnose.
It’s important for individuals with PDD-NOS to receive early intervention and treatment to help them overcome their difficulties. Treatment typically involves a combination of behavioral therapy, speech therapy and social skills training.

Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome is a rare genetic neurological disorder that affects the development of the brain. It primarily affects females.

Common Symptoms of Rett’s Syndrome:

  • Problems with communication.
  • Problems with coordination.
  • Other developmental milestones.
  • Breathing problems.

There is currently no cure for Rett Syndrome, but there are supportive treatments that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Treatment can involve medication for breathing irregularities and motor difficulties. Occupational therapy and physical therapy to prolong mobility can also be used as treatment.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

This is a rare condition that affects children between the ages of 3 and 4 years old. Children with this disorder will experience a significant loss of language, social, and motor skills that have been previously acquired.

Common Symptoms of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder:

  • Significant loss of language, social and motor skills that have been previously acquired.
  • Lack of social and self help skills.
  • Problems in the nervous system such difficulty with speaking and breathing.

Understanding the various types of autism is important as it can provide insight into what someone with autism experiences. As technology evolves and medical science progresses, the definitions and categories of autism will likely expand and become even more finely tailored. While no two people with autism are the same, knowing the different types is a valuable step toward helping others who have it and understanding it in the best way possible.

Here at Autism Assessment Centre, when there is a question about your child’s functioning, we understand how important knowledge and trusted guidance can be. Whether there is a diagnosis or not, we will always take time to walk you through the process of getting help for your child. Our services include a multidisciplinary/ multi-factor assessment that results in a report and feedback session to guide you to the next steps.

Autism Assessment Centre

Understanding: We strive to make the process as easy and comfortable as possible.
Empathy: We always listen to and support the children and families who come to us.
Professionalism: Our clinicians are experts in their field.
Quality: Our reports are written to meet HSE standards.

World Autism Awareness Day

Find out more about our services and how we can help.

Clinicians, Physicians, and Autism: Navigating Support and Understanding

Clinicians, Physicians, and Autism: Navigating Support and Understanding

Clinicians, Physicians, and Autism: Navigating Support and Understanding

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by challenges in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviours that presents as unique complexities. As the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continues to rise globally, the need for informed, compassionate, and effective support from healthcare professionals becomes ever more paramount. Clinicians and physicians are an important factor in understanding and addressing the diverse needs of individuals with ASD.

According to Ireland’s National Autism Charity, around 3.3% of people in Ireland are Autistic.

Four times as many males have autism (79%) recorded as a primary disability compared with females (21%), and this gender disparity is more pronounced in younger ages, according to the NASS Autism Supplementary Report 2020.

By staying informed about the latest research and diagnostic criteria, clinicians and physicians play a central role in the comprehensive assessment, diagnosis, and ongoing evaluation of autism. Through their comprehensive understanding of ASD, which includes recognising the diverse range of presentations within the spectrum, from mild to severe, and understanding the associated strengths and challenges, they pave the way for better support and care.

Diagnostic Tools

The DSM

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is one of the most widely used diagnostic guides for Autism by healthcare professionals across the world. 

The ICD-11

The International Classification of Diseases  (Version 11). This is seen as the global standard for coding health information and causes of death.

The ADOS

The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule is a semi-structured observational assessment of social communication and behaviour such as play-based observation.

The ADI-R

The Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised. Usually an interview conducted with the parents of individuals who have been referred for assessment.

Diagnosis Assessment can be acquired in two ways – Publicly through the HSE or Privately 

Publicly:
The Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland provides autism-specific services, including assessment, diagnosis, and intervention. They explain how to help your autistic child with day to day life, advice about medicine and medical problems and how to help their behaviour, as well as other forms of advice.

Privately:
Here at Autism Assessment Centre, when there is a question about your child’s functioning, we understand how important knowledge and trusted guidance can be. Whether there is a diagnosis or not, we will always take time to walk you through the process of getting help for your child. Our services include a multidisciplinary/ multi-factor assessment that results in a report and feedback session to guide you to the next steps.

Autism Assessment Centre:

• Our client-centred approach allows us to educate, assess, and support your needs directly.
• We can facilitate a full range of services that adapt to specific needs, organised in an efficient manner.
• We understand your world, we speak your language.
• With the right people and the right skills and knowledge, we are ready to support you.

Jennifer O’Neill, Specialist Services Manager/ Autism Assessment Centre says:

As the manager of our Specialist Services department, I see my role not just as a profession but as a deeply rewarding experience of support and understanding. I take immense joy in being part of the journey for children and families as they strive to achieve their goals.

In our Autism Assessment Centers across Ireland, collaboration is the cornerstone of our approach. We recognise the importance of working closely with parents, caregivers, and educators to ensure seamless support for each child’s development.

Our team’s specialised expertise in Autism Spectrum Disorder is pivotal in conducting thorough and accurate assessments, which serve as the crucial first step in a child’s journey. Clinicians are the driving force behind this process, utilising their skills and knowledge to provide insightful evaluations that guide families towards the most appropriate interventions and support services.

Our assessments pave the way for children to access the early interventions and support they need to thrive. I deeply appreciate and recognise the vital role that clinicians play in this journey, as their dedication and expertise significantly contribute to positive outcomes for the children and families we serve.

1. Care After Diagnosis

Clinicians and psychologists play a key role in care after diagnosis. This may include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), social skills training, and sensory integration therapy, among others. Clinicians and psychologists collaborate closely with individuals and their families to identify goals, address specific challenges, and monitor progress over time.

  • Sensory integration therapy: By providing structured sensory experiences and activities, this therapy helps individuals regulate sensory responses and improve the ability to participate in daily activities and social interactions.
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): Offers a valuable therapeutic approach, addressing cognitive, emotional, and social challenges inherent to the condition. By integrating CBT into comprehensive treatment plans, clinicians and psychologists contribute to a more inclusive and supportive environment.
  • Social skills training: involves structures designed to teach individuals on the autism spectrum the social and communication skills necessary for successful social interaction.

2. Collaborative Care

Effective support for individuals with ASD often requires a multidisciplinary approach that extends beyond the healthcare setting. Clinicians and physicians can facilitate collaboration with educators, therapists, and community resources to ensure comprehensive care that addresses the unique needs of each individual. By fostering partnerships with other professionals and advocating for inclusive practices, they can contribute to improved outcomes and enhanced quality of life for individuals.

  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: By fostering communication and coordination, clinicians ensure that support services are seamlessly integrated to address the comprehensive needs of individuals with autism across various settings, including home, school, and community.
  • The Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs): Specialised support and services for children who have a disability and complex health needs associated with their disability. Children gain significant benefits from ongoing access to and support from a wrap-around interdisciplinary team service, guided by an Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP).
  • Advocacy and Empowerment: By providing information, guidance, and support, clinicians empower individuals with autism and their families to make informed choices, advocate for their needs, and collaborate effectively with healthcare professionals to ensure optimal outcomes.
  • Primary Care: These are providers of services for children with non-complex needs, such as one or more impairments creating functional difficulties, resulting in mild restrictions in daily life. Care comes in the form of public health nurses, community speech and language therapists, family doctors and community physiotherapists. 

In the complex landscape of ASD, clinicians and physicians serve as crucial allies, playing a key role in developing and implementing the above approaches. Through their knowledge of autism, multidisciplinary methods, and collaborating closely with individuals and their families, they serve as indispensable pillars of support, understanding, and advocacy. By fostering a holistic approach that considers the unique strengths and challenges of each individual, they contribute to a more inclusive and supportive society encompassing compassion, empathy, and dedication. This empowers individuals to thrive and reach their full potential.

Find out more about how our Autism Assessment Services can support your family.

Understanding Autism in Girls and How to Recognise The Signs

5 tips on finding the right homecare provider

Understanding Autism in Girls and How to Recognise The Signs

In a world where autism is becoming increasingly recognised and understood, there is still a significant gender gap when it comes to diagnosis. Many girls on the autism spectrum often go undiagnosed or are diagnosed much later in life compared to their male counterparts. Understanding autism in girls and how to recognise the signs provides valuable insights to support and empower them. Girls frequently display unique signs and coping strategies. Early intervention and assessments can help girls to thrive and reach their full potential.


It is believed that not all girls with autism are being diagnosed. Many girls and women mask their autism in order to fit in. An Irish Times article explains this and the repercussions involved with not being diagnosed.


Our Autism Services

At Autism Assessment Centre Ireland we know that children can experience the world in many different ways and that some children have unique needs which might require extra help as they grow. Knowing what those needs might be, and how best to support them is something that an assessment of need can help with.

With occupational therapists, psychologists and speech and language therapists on our roster, we have the right people to help ease this all-important transition. We offer office space for assessments, ensuring patients are seen in the right place. Our staff have the right skills and knowledge to conduct assessments and build relationships with children to ensure a safe, comfortable and accurate assessment.

Understanding Autism in Girls and How to Recognise The Signs

Recognising the Telltale Signs

Identifying autism in girls can be like solving a complex puzzle. Their symptoms often differ from the more stereotypical behaviors seen in boys with autism. To effectively recognise it, it’s crucial to look beyond the surface and consider subtle signs that may manifest in their behavior, communication, and social interactions.

Like boys, girls may engage in repetitive behaviors, such as hand-flapping, rocking, or lining up objects. They can have intense, focused interests that may appear similar to hobbies, but these interests can dominate their lives. Armed with this knowledge, it’s easier to support girls who may be struggling and supply them with the support and encouragement they need.

Navigating the Transition from Early Intervention to Primary School

Masking and Autism

Girls with autism are often masters of disguise. They may meticulously mimic their peers’ social behaviors, facial expressions, and interests. This phenomenon, known as ‘masking’, can make it incredibly challenging for parents, teachers, and even clinicians to recognise the signs. Understanding the motivation behind ‘masking’ is the first step toward uncovering the hidden world of autism in girls.

‘Masking’ is a coping mechanism that can help girls fit in and navigate a world that often misunderstands or stigmatises their differences. It’s often done as a way to navigate social situations and avoid judgment or exclusion. As girls often mask their symptoms effectively, they may receive a diagnosis later in life, if at all. Some might not be recognised as autistic until adulthood and it can come at a cost, as it can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, and a sense of not truly belonging.

Understanding Autism in Girls and How to Recognise The Signs

Empowering Girls on the Spectrum

Supporting needs and fostering inclusion can help with their personal growth. Parents, educators, and friends must create an environment where girls can thrive. From open communication to providing sensory-friendly spaces, these can make a significant difference in their lives.

Gradually encourage independence in daily life skills and decision-making, providing guidance and support as needed. Set realistic expectations and goals based on their abilities and needs, focusing on progress rather than perfection. Empowering girls on the autism spectrum requires a multi-faceted approach that recognises their individuality and provides the necessary support and opportunities for growth.

Unmasking the hidden signs of autism in girls is vital. Through assessments and by taking the time to recognise the symptoms, they can progress in life like any other child. By understanding the ‘masking’ phenomenon and the unique challenges they face, it is possible to bridge the gender gap in diagnosis and support. Employing inclusive strategies empowers them to embrace their true selves and allows them to feel valued for who they are and to reach their full potential.

Talk to a member of our dedicated team today.

Navigating the Transition from Early Intervention to Primary School

5 tips on finding the right homecare provider

Navigating the transition from early intervention to primary school in Ireland is an important process for children with special educational needs (SEN) and their families. Early intervention services in Ireland are designed to provide support and assistance to children with disabilities or developmental delays from birth to six years of age. As parents, it’s natural to feel a sense of apprehension as your child enters a new phase of their education. It’s important to remember, however, that you are not alone in this journey.

There are numerous resources available to help families navigate this transition and set their children up for success in school. From communicating with educators and therapists to familiarising children with their new school environment, there are helpful steps to take that ease navigating the transition from early intervention to primary school.


A study from the National Council for Special Education found that 14,000 students have an autism diagnosis, 1 in every 65 students or 1.5% of the school population.


Our Autism Services

At Autism Assessment Centre Ireland we know that children can experience the world in many different ways and that some children have unique needs which might require extra help as they grow. Knowing what those needs might be, and how best to support them is something that an assessment of need can help with.

With occupational therapists, psychologists and speech and language therapists on our roster, we have the right people to help ease this all-important transition. We offer office space for assessments, ensuring patients are seen in the right place. Our staff have the right skills and knowledge to conduct assessments and build relationships with children to ensure a safe, comfortable and accurate assessment.

Assessment and Planning

As children approach school age, a formal assessment is conducted to determine their specific needs and the level of support required. Assessment and planning are essential to ensure the child continues to receive the support they need to thrive in their new environment. An Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Individualised Education Programme (IEP) may be developed for each child that outlines their educational goals, required supports, and the strategies to achieve these goals.

Parents and caregivers play a pivotal role in the assessment process. They provide valuable information about their child’s history, development, and any concerns they may have. Their insights help create a more holistic understanding of the child’s needs. By working closely with educators and specialists, families and caregivers can gain the tools and resources necessary to create a plan that meets the individual needs of the child. With the right support, this transition can be made smoothly, paving the way for the child’s continued success in school and beyond.

Navigating the Transition from Early Intervention to Primary School

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENO)

SENOs or Special Education Needs Organisers are professionals who work with families and schools to ensure that children with special education needs receive appropriate support and accommodations. SENOs help facilitate the transition process, provide guidance to parents, and collaborate with schools to implement the child’s individual education plan. The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 reinforces the rights of children with disabilities to an inclusive education.

They are trained professionals who can help ease the transition process and ensure that every child gets the best possible education. With their guidance, parents can feel confident that their child is getting the care and support they need. From providing advice on schooling options to arranging assessments, SENOs can make a world of difference in helping children with special needs navigate this important milestone.

Navigating the Transition from Early Intervention to Primary School

School Placement

As children approach primary school age (typically around six years old), there is a shift in the type and level of support they receive, as they move from early intervention services to school.

Depending on the child’s needs and the recommendations in their individual education plan, they may attend a mainstream primary school with support or a special school designed to meet the needs of children with specific disabilities. The decision on school placement is made through collaboration between parents, SENOs, and school authorities. Schools in Ireland receive funding and support from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to provide necessary resources and services for children with SEN.

Support services may include the presence of special needs assistants (SNAs) in the classroom, assistive technology, speech and language therapy, and more. This significant milestone is often filled with uncertainty, as parents struggle to determine the best school placement for their child. It is crucial to consider the unique needs of each child when making this decision, as the right placement can have a significant impact on their academic, social, and emotional development. With careful planning and collaboration with educators, parents can ease the transition and ensure their child receives the support they need to thrive in their educational journey.

The transition from early intervention to primary school can be a difficult one for children with autism. However, by being aware of the support systems available such as SENO’s, and communication tools, it can ease this process. Utilising resources such as individual education plans and having activities that focus on inclusion for parents are also important when preparing a child for a successful transition. Connecting with other families who have faced similar transitions is a great way to share advice and offer emotional support.

With patience, understanding and knowledge, it is possible to make the transition into school easier for the child. School should be an enjoyable experience at all times so creating an atmosphere of acceptance and support during this time is key. With support and guidance, families can navigate this transition with confidence and set their children up for a bright future.

Talk to a member of our dedicated team today.

Managing Behavioural Challenges in Children with Autism

5 tips on finding the right homecare provider

Managing Behavioural Challenges in Children with Autism

Children with autism have many unique characteristics and behaviours which may be challenging. Managing behavioural challenges in children with autism can be complex but essential in improving their quality of life and overall functioning. It is important for parents and caretakers to seek support and guidance throughout this journey. Through patience, understanding, compassion, and by following our below guide, children can thrive in their school and home life.


A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine suggests that the prevalence of challenging behaviours increases with age during childhood, reaches a peak during adolescence and young adulthood, and then declines in later adulthood years.


Autism Services with Servisource

With occupational therapists, psychologists and speech and language therapists on our roster, the Servisource team has the right people to fulfill the needs of those with autism. Our dedicated team can facilitate a full range of services that adapt to the child’s needs organised in an efficient manner.

Managing Behavioural Challenges in Children with Autism

Talk to a member of our dedicated team today.

Be Understanding

Each child with autism is unique, so it’s crucial to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and triggers for challenging behaviors. Managing behavioural situations requires a deep understanding of each individual’s unique personality and needs. They require a tailored approach unique to them.

Keep in mind that some behaviors might be attempts to communicate needs or cope with sensory issues. As caregivers, it is our responsibility to approach these situations with compassion and empathy, understanding that certain behaviors may be a result of frustration or a need for sensory input. By incorporating techniques such as positive reinforcement, encouragement and creating a safe, predictable environment, we can help children with autism learn the appropriate behaviors to manage their challenges.

Managing Behavioral Challenges in Children with Autism

Create a Structured Environment

Children with autism often thrive in structured and predictable environments. Establish a daily routine and use visual schedules or timers to help them understand what to expect throughout the day. When it comes to their learning and development, routines are essential. They find comfort in knowing what is coming next, which allows them to feel secure in their surroundings. As parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility to ensure that they have this structure in place.

When creating a structured environment for a child, it is important to consider their different sensitivities and perceive every detail from visual and auditory cues to the arrangement of furniture. By establishing consistency, providing clear expectations, and creating a supportive atmosphere, we can help them reach their full potential.

Managing Behavioral Challenges in Children with Autism

Teach Communication Skills

Communication difficulties may arise. One way to help this is to implement and encourage the use of alternative communication methods, such as sign language, picture exchange communication systems (flashcards or posters), repetition, and assistive technology devices (tablets or laptops).

Teaching communication skills to children is a crucial step in helping them build relationships and to navigate different social settings. Use simple, clear, and concise language. Speak slowly and provide enough time for the child to process information. Encourage communication throughout the child’s daily routines and create opportunities for communication during playtime, mealtime, and other activities. Celebrate every small step forward and remain patient and supportive throughout the process. Consistency and repetition are essential when teaching communication skills to children.

Managing Behavioral Challenges in Children with Autism

Limit Environmental Triggers

Identify and minimise environmental triggers that might lead to challenging behaviors, such as loud noises, bright lights, or crowded spaces. The world can often feel like a confusing and overwhelming place for them at times.

Environmental triggers such as bright lights, loud noises, and strong smells can trigger anxiety and sensory overload, making it difficult for them to navigate their daily lives. As parents and caregivers, it is essential to identify and limit these triggers to help promote a more comfortable and positive environment for them. By creating a calm and soothing atmosphere that caters to their specific needs, we can help them feel more supported and empowered to thrive. Compassion and understanding can make all the difference in helping these children grow and achieve their fullest potential.

As parents and caregivers of children with autism, it’s important to remember that managing behavioural challenges is not an easy feat. With the right approach, and a plan in place to effectively address issues, it can be done with the help of dedicated professionals. It’s never too early or too late to start implementing strategies and the key is to create an environment full of respect and understanding while also providing consistency and structure. With patience and practice, families can help children manage their behavior and positively guide them toward independence.