Navigating the Transition from Early Intervention to Primary School

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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.

Finding the Right Therapy for Your Child with Autism

5 tips on finding the right homecare provider
Finding the Right Therapy for Your Child with Autism

Finding the Right Therapy for Your Child with Autism

Autism can come in many forms and choosing the correct plan of action for your family is essential if you want to foster progress for your child. With so many treatment options at hand, from Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy to educational therapies, it can be daunting trying to decide which route suits your little one best. Finding the right therapy for your child with autism is vital in order for them to grow and thrive. There are many preparation methods to consider when selecting therapies that fit your individual situation.

Did You Know?

According to WHO, about 1 in 100 children has autism.

1. Understand your child’s needs

Begin by gaining a thorough understanding of your child’s strengths, challenges, and specific needs. By focusing on their strengths and finding ways to communicate with them in a way that works for them, you can create a supportive and nurturing environment that allows them to thrive. Listen to your child, observe their behavior, communication abilities, sensory sensitivities, and any other areas that require attention. You will then be able to evaluate the scale of their autism and what can help or hinder them.

2. Consult with professionals

Reach out to professionals, such as developmental pediatricians, child psychologists, or therapists. They can assess your child’s specific needs and provide recommendations for appropriate therapies. Additionally, they may suggest specific clinics, centers, or organisations that offer reliable and evidence-based interventions. With the right support system, you can navigate the challenges together.

The Irish Society for Autism (ISA) is a national charity that provides support, information, and advocacy for individuals with autism and their families. They can offer further guidance and direction to suitable consultation services in your area.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland also provides autism-specific services, including assessment, diagnosis, and intervention. They explain the following on their website: 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.

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 Center:

• 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.

3. Schedule consultations

Arrange consultations with the therapy providers you are considering. During these meetings, ask questions about their approach, treatment goals, expected outcomes, duration of therapy, and any specific strategies they use. Be sure to discuss your child’s unique needs and ask how they will tailor the method to address those needs.
Once you have identified the specialists required, you can begin to schedule appointments at times that suit your family’s needs. Always make sure to give yourself enough time before appointments to prepare questions and concerns, and never be afraid to advocate for your child’s needs during consultations.

4. Monitor progress

Continuously monitor your child’s progress and development throughout therapy. One way to do this is by keeping track of their developmental milestones, such as their ability to communicate effectively or their motor skills. Regularly communicate with the therapist to assess whether the chosen method is meeting their needs, to understand what goals they are working towards, and how you can reinforce their progress at home.

If necessary, discuss modifications or explore alternative therapies that may be more beneficial. Progress looks different for everyone, so focus on celebrating any and all accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.

Finding the right therapeutic approach for your child with autism can be a daunting task. The key is to remain open-minded and patient and to try different modalities until you find the one that works best. Reach out to support groups if you need help navigating through the process. With compassionate care, personalised guidance, and unwavering patience, the journey will ultimately be rewarding.

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

The Importance of Early Intervention for Children with Autism

5 tips on finding the right homecare provider
The Importance of Early Intervention for Children with Autism

The Importance of Early Intervention for Children with Autism

Every child should have the best possible chance of leading a full, happy and healthy life, especially those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Through early diagnosis and early interventions, it can lead to the best outcomes for parents and the child involved, such as improved learning, proper guidance and a reduction in stress for everyone. There are many types of methods that are used and a range of advantages that show the importance of early intervention for children with autism.

What early intervention is and the methods used

This can be described as the early diagnosis of ASD and treating it with a range of services or therapies which aims to improve developmental outcomes. This is carried out with the support of professionals and caregivers through:

  • Applied Behaviour Analysis Therapy (ABA): Based on principles of behaviourism. Breaks complex skills down into smaller, manageable parts, making situations less stressful and confusing.
  • Speech Therapy: This aims to help children who struggle with communication to improve their language skills.
  • Occupational Therapy: Aims to improve a child’s motor skills and self-care skills such as using utensils and dressing themselves.
  • Special Education: Structured learning in a supportive environment such as mainstream schools, specialised schools, and through home-based programmes.

Servisource has occupational therapists, psychologists, and speech and language therapists on our roster. This means we have the right people with the right skills and knowledge not only to conduct assessments but to also build relationships with children, ensuring a safe, comfortable, and accurate assessment.

Servisource’s Autism Assessment Centre

By going through our assessment process, you can see if your child might have an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This helps you to gain the following:
• Peace of mind
• Knowledge
• Advice
• Support

  • Peace of mind: Whatever the outcome, just knowing more can bring comfort.
  • Knowledge: A greater understanding of your child’s specific needs.
  • Advice: Practical advice on how to better help and support your child.
  • Support: Access to a range of ‘next step’ support and information.

There are several benefits from these methods which include:

Improved learning abilities

ASD affects the development of communication and social interaction, leading to difficulties in learning and adapting to new situations. By recognising autism early, this means targeted support can be provided for children with ASD. It allows them to reach an academic and social high performance by focusing on developing communication and social skills. They can then feel more secure within their learning environment, giving them the tools to interact successfully with their peers and teachers.

The impact of this extends beyond the children themselves as families can also benefit from increased education and support. It can advise families on the best methods to use for interacting with their child in relation to education and school situations. This gives children with ASD the best possible start in their education.

Provides guidance

It provides guidance in terms of finding the right resources, treatment options, and educational programs for families. They can then receive targeted support, such as behavioral therapy and social skills training at a crucial developmental stage. It allows children to receive treatment before their behaviors worsen over time and gives them a guide on how to deal with the world around them.

Parents can learn how to better support their child’s needs and receive emotional support during this difficult time. It can help them navigate the challenging road ahead and allow them to become better equipped in relation to their child’s future and what they might encounter.

Did You Know?

Around 1,548 Autism classes and Early Intervention classes have been set up across all primary schools throughout the 2022-23 school year.

This demonstrates schools’ commitment to providing inclusive education.

Girl smiling and The Importance of Early Intervention for Children with Autism

Reduces stress

Autism can be a challenging condition for both families and the child affected. However, recognising it early and its characteristics, can play a significant role in reducing stress for both parties. It can help children with autism improve their communication skills, self-regulation, and reduce problematic behaviors. As a result, families can feel a sense of relief and reassurance, and be better equipped to cope with the challenges of raising their child.

Parents can gain advice on how to cope in relation to certain obstacles that might occur around daily tasks such as getting ready for school and interacting with siblings. This will make life easier for everyone and create a more peaceful and loving home.

The Importance of Early Intervention for Children with Autism

Our above guide aims to reassure and give parents the knowledge to choose the methods that best fit the unique needs of their child. It should be seen as an important part of each child’s overall health care plan. With the proper resources and support from medical professionals and parents, children with autism can feel hopeful about their future prospects. This, in turn, helps them to thrive within their home and education environment.

Find out more about our Autism Assessment Services.

Creating a Supportive Home Environment for Children with Autism

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Creating a Supportive Home Environment for Children with Autism

Creating a supportive home environment for children with autism is essential. They require a home environment that is both loving and supportive in order to help them flourish. Having a safe, predictable atmosphere within the home can make it easier for kids with autism to manage their behaviours and reduce stress. Developing an understanding of your child’s unique needs combined with positive living strategies will create an encouraging home environment for everyone. We will take a look at the factors involved when creating a supportive home environment for children with autism.

Create a Predictable Routine

It is important for parents to establish a predictable, consistent routine. This helps their child feel secure and safe. Having a predictable daily schedule and routine can provide structure and comfort.

Children with autism can often feel very overwhelmed by their environment and having structure can alleviate some of that stress. It helps them to understand and anticipate what happens next, leading to improved emotional regulation, fewer behavior outbursts, and increased independence.

Routine can be based around:

  • Allowing a certain time for meals during the day.
  • Setting a time for playtime with certain toys/games.
  • Setting a specific time schedule for schoolwork.
  • A schedule around daily living activities like brushing teeth or putting on shoes.

There are certain ways to implement this routine such as: creating visual supports like pictures, diagrams, and written schedules. This can help them to understand what is expected of them throughout the day. Try to make the visuals as clear and concise as possible.

Reduce Sensory Overload

sensory overload and Creating a Supportive Home Environment for Children with Autism

Children with autism can also be sensitive to noise, light and other sensory stimuli. Try to reduce these sources of stress with noise-cancelling headphones, low-level lighting, and other calming strategies.

Ways in which sensory overload can be eased and prevented are:

  • By providing a space for privacy when they become overwhelmed.
  • Provide calming activities such as colouring.
  • Items such as chew toys or weighted blankets can help to self-regulate emotionally.
  • Avoid loud activities in the home.
  • Supply noise-cancelling headphones.
  • Avoid loud music.
  • Avoid harsh, bright lights in the home.

Finding the right balance of sensory input is essential and helps them to enjoy life more comfortably and functionally. By taking the time to learn, receive assistance and practice, both parent and child can work together to reduce the amount of sensory input making life simpler for both.

Did You Know?

It is estimated that autism spectrum disorders affect around 1 per cent of the populace, with a disproportionately higher number of male individuals experiencing the condition.

Autism and a supportive home environment

Encourage Communication

It’s important to encourage communication, even if it is limited. Early intervention when a child cannot communicate properly is crucial. It is good to determine your child’s communication level first and then proceed from there. Offer visual supports, such as pictures or symbols, to help them express their needs and feelings.

Non-verbal autism describes people with autism who cannot speak or can only speak a few words. About 25–30% of autistic individuals are nonspeaking or minimally speaking.  Support for non-verbal autism includes: speech therapy and behavioral therapy which can can help with social skills.

At our Autism Assessment Centre, Speech and Language Therapists work with anyone who may be experiencing a range of difficulties in relation to their speech, language and communication skills. Here are some of examples of who may benefit from a speech and language therapy assessment:

  • Children who are at the pre-verbal stage of language development and are communicating primarily through non-verbal means. For example, by taking an adult by the hand to show them what they want or by reaching, pointing or gesturing to what they want.
  • Children who can combine words together and use phrases, but their overall language development is delayed.
  • Children who can use a few single words but are delayed in their language development.

There are many other ways non-verbal children can communicate:

Through facial expressions.
– Through gestures.
– Pointing to letters to spell words.
– Writing.

Connecting with other families who have autistic children can also help to provide a support system for both you and your child, as sharing experiences and resources can be beneficial for everybody.

It is necessary to create an open environment where parents feel comfortable having age-related conversations about autism. Creating a place for children where freedom of speech is encouraged, provides an invaluable foundation for their continuing growth.

Ways to Encourage Communication

– Keep language simple to avoid confusion.
– Give your child time to respond.
– Props can be used such as signs as well as hand gestures.
– Reward positive behaviour to encourage communication.
– Have a positive attitude which allows them to have one too.

Offer Choices

Children with autism often need more control over their environment, so offering choices can be beneficial. It can be incorporated into their daily routine. The ability to have control over even the smallest of decisions leads to increased participation and motivation in both educational and recreational activities. It allows them to express their interests and gives them a sense of control over their situation. In turn, this creates a supportive home environment for children with autism.

Choice boards are a great way for children to make their own choices. These are based on what kind of motor or communication skills the child has. A whiteboard can be used for this and the items that the child can choose from can be stuck to or drawn onto the choice board, giving them a visual aid. This can decrease anxiety and fear for the child.

Creating a Supportive Home Environment for Children with Autism and allowing choice

Ways in which you can offer them choices are:

  • Choice between two activities.
  • Choice of snacks.
  • Choice of preferred rewards.
  • Choice of what to wear.
  • Choice of where to visit.

Allowing these choices can help children to feel more confident and empowered. By letting them decide how to approach situations – no matter big or small – we can create an even brighter future for them to experience.

By following these steps and remaining consistent with expectations and rules in your home environment, you can create a safe space for your child. A home where love, respect, and understanding is available is where they can flourish. With the right support system it is entirely possible for parents to raise happy and successful individuals.

A healthy living environment using the above techniques will enable them to engage more fully with the world around them, allowing them to unlock their potential and have more enjoyable and fulfilling experiences in life.

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

Understanding the Different Types of Autism

5 tips on finding the right homecare provider

Understanding the Different Types of Autism

Understanding the different types of autism and its affects on families is important. 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. These plans can be tailored specifically for your loved one.

Whether you’re a parent trying to gain an understanding of this condition or a healthcare professional looking to expand on your knowledge, this article will provide insight into aspects surrounding various types of autism.

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 is 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.

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 is 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 are:

  • Delays with language development.
  • Difficulty with social interaction.
  • Repetitive behaviours or routines.
  • Heightened sensitivity to sensory input.

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 organizations such as Autism Ireland, AsIAm, and the Irish Society for Autism that provide information, advocacy, and support for those on the autism spectrum.

Asperger’s Syndrome

This is a milder form of autism, individuals with Asperger’s syndrome typically have average or above-average intelligence. Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects an individual’s ability to socialize and communicate.

Common symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome are:

  • Difficulty with social interactions.
  • May have repetitive behaviours or intense interests in specific topics.
  • Sensitivity to noise, touch, odor or tastes.

Treatment for it includes physical therapy to help improve coordination and balance or certain types of medication. It’s important to recognize that individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome have unique strengths and abilities. By highlighting these strengths and celebrating individual differences, we can help create a more inclusive and accepting society for all.

How to get an autism assessment in ireland

A policy advice report by the National Council for Special Education on Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Schools, noted that 1 in 65, or 1.5%, of the school-going population in Ireland, had a diagnosis of Autism.

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

PDD-NOS is a term used to describe a group of disorders characterized by delays in socialisation and communication skills. It is 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 are:

  • 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 is 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 are:

  • 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.

Autism and the different types

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 are:

  • 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.

Treatment includes anti-seizure medications, behaviour therapy and speech and language therapy.

It is important to note that autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that every individual with autism will have unique symptoms and characteristics. Early diagnosis and intervention are essential in helping individuals with autism achieve their full potential.

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 of autism is a valuable step toward helping others who have it and understanding it as best we can.

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

Our Core Values

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.