Autism Services & Support
Therapy Focus is one of Australia’s leading disability service providers, offering a range of professional therapy services to children and adults with autism.
What is Autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects a person’s ability to interact and communicate. It is a lifelong condition that is present from early childhood, and affects a person’s ability to relate to their environment and the people around them.
Autism is a complex condition. There are several different ways in which autism might present, which is why a ‘spectrum’ is referred to. There are a range of difficulties that those with autism experience, these difficulties also vary in the degree to which they may be experienced. The level of difficulty is determined by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences, and whilst some people may be able to live relatively normal lives, others require daily specialist support.
The main areas of difficulty experienced by people with autism include:
- Social communication
- Social interaction
- Restricted or repetitive behavior
- Learning challenges
- Intellectual disability
Signs of Autism
It may be difficult to identify the exact signs of autism spectrum disorder, as the difficulties experienced can differ greatly between people. However, here are a few challenges commonly experienced by people with autism:
- Challenges with communication and initiating and/or sustaining conversations
- Difficulty interacting with others and making friends
- Inability to read non-verbal forms of communication
- Delayed language development
- Repetitive behaviours
- Self-stimulatory behaviours like hand flapping, spinning or head-banging
- Strong interest in one topic or subject
- Preference for routines and a dislike for change
- Some may experience hyposensitivity or hypersensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours
There are also certain mental health and medical issues that frequently accompany autism, such as anxiety and phobias, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sleep disturbances, seizures and gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.
Autism in Children
Autism is typically diagnosed in children, as signs of the disorder can be seen early on in the developmental stage. Autism in children cannot be definitively diagnosed until around 18 to 24 months, however symptoms tend to emerge between 12 and 18 months of age and can even be present from as early as 9 months.
Symptoms of autism in children:
Autism can be hard to detect in newborns and young children, however there are a few signs to be wary of, including:
- If by 9 months, there is no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions.
- If by 12 months, there is no babbling or back-and-forth gestures, or if these behaviours were once present but have stopped.
- If, at any age, they present a loss of language or social skills. This could be if an infant stops babbling or a toddler stops speaking or responding. A loss of social skills could mean problems interacting with others, sharing affection, or difficulties learning.
Signs of autism in children are usually seen within the first two years. It’s important for parents to pay close attention to their child’s social communication development and watch for the red flags. For some children, signs may be present from birth, however others may seem to develop normally at first, until learning development appears to backtrack and symptoms begin to show (usually between 18 to 36 months).
Think your child may be showing signs of autism?
If any of the above symptoms of autism are present in your children, trust your instincts and make an appointment with your child’s doctor immediately. We urge parents not to accept the wait-and-see-approach, as research has proven that an early diagnosis and intervention can significantly reduce the impact of autism on a child’s functioning and aid in helping them live to their potential.
How we can help
At Therapy focus, our qualified therapists and support staff offer a range of autism support and services, available to people on the autism spectrum, as well as their families and carers.
We offer autism support services in Perth and the South West region of WA, including:
- Autism assessments
- Support for the development of daily living skills and independence
- Social skill programs and community participation
- Provision of aids and equipment
- A network of autism-specific institutions and communities
- A support network for parents, families and carers.
How we work
We provide a highly personalised, flexible service that is tailored to the needs of each individual, their family and carers. Our team of qualified therapists deliver evidence-based therapy programs that focus on goals and achieve real, functional outcomes.
To find out more about our autism support services, contact us today.