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 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.

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 autism, 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 autism 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 autism, 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.

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

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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.

Supporting Siblings of Children with Autism

5 tips on finding the right homecare provider
Supporting Siblings of Children with Autism

Supporting Siblings of Children with Autism

The bond between siblings cannot be denied. Siblings of children with autism can have a very positive influence on them and encourage them in a lot of ways. However, they may sometimes struggle to understand their brother or sister and how they can best support them. As a family member or parent, it is important to remember that they live in a unique situation that carries certain emotions and daily challenges. This can cause confusion about why their sibling reacts differently to certain situations. It is why supporting siblings of children with autism is so important and we will offer some advice on how best to do this.

Core Values of Autism Assessment Centre Ireland

Create a comforting space

Parents want nothing more than for their family to feel loved. When one of their children has autism, however, the dynamic can change. Siblings may feel omitted as parents devote significant time and attention to caring for their brother or sister with special needs. In such situations, it is important to create a comforting space for them to express their emotions and concerns. They need to know they are not alone in their experiences and that they too are valued members of the family.

Parents should ask them how they are feeling in an open and kind manner, listen to their needs and ask what they can do for them. They need to be aware of their body language and the tone of their voice, as well as their words. By creating a supportive environment for all family members, parents can help to ensure that their children feel loved and accepted no matter what challenges they may face.

Did You Know?

The current prevalence of Autism in Ireland is approximately 1% of the population.

Father and son high-fiving and The Importance of Early Intervention for Children with Autism

Encourage open communication

For parents, fostering open communication between siblings is crucial. While having a sibling with autism can certainly bring unique challenges, it can also offer opportunities for growth and understanding. Encouraging everyone to speak openly about their feelings and experiences can help them develop a deeper empathy and a stronger bond between each other. Setting aside time for family meetings or one-on-one conversations can be immensely beneficial.

It is important for parents to approach these conversations with compassion and understanding, acknowledging the complex emotions that may arise. Siblings can then feel more supported and validated in their experiences. Building strong bonds can have a positive impact on the whole family.

Core Values of Autism Assessment Centre Ireland

Support groups

It can be challenging to navigate the unique experiences that come along with this diagnosis. Fortunately, there are support groups in Ireland specifically designed to provide guidance, resources, and a sense of community. These groups understand that parents of children with autism are often very busy and other children in the family may feel excluded.

By joining a support group, siblings can connect with others who can relate to their experiences and offer guidance and support. Whether it’s finding ways to manage emotions or learning about the latest research, support groups provide a safe space for them to share and grow together. You can find more advice and support from Autism Ireland as well as Ireland’s National Autism Charity.

Not only do these siblings need patience and compassion from family members but they also require educational support on how to adjust their expectations of the relationship with their autistic family member. This will allow all individuals to have meaningful connections.

These steps can create a profoundly rewarding experience for both the sibling and the child with special needs when done correctly. It can be challenging sometimes and this is why making time for understanding and communication is important.

Taking time to sit down together as a family to talk about the situation and ask each other questions and express feelings can be powerful in building trust and connection. Together families have the power to create an environment where everyone feels seen, appreciated, heard, and supported.

At Autism Assessment Ireland, we understand your world and we speak your language. Families are guided by our highly trained, understanding professionals so they know exactly what to expect and are educated each step of the way.

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

Creating a Supportive Home Environment for Children with Autism

5 tips on finding the right homecare provider

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.