A new brochure about autism spectrum disorder, now available as part of the Federal Government's Helping Children with Autism package, is designed to help parents and carers find the best care for their children.
"Autism can seem like bad behaviour, and no two children will have exactly the same set of problems so it can be difficult to recognise," says psychologist and brochure co-author Dr Rebecca Mathews, from the Australian Psychological Society. "However, parents are best placed to know their own children, so if they feel something is not right they should ask for an assessment. It is also important that parents know which health professionals provide assistance with autism and how they can access these services."
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability that is part of the broader category called pervasive developmental disorders, which includes Autistic disorder (autism), Asperger's disorder, Pervasive developmental disorder - Not otherwise specified, Rett's disorder and Childhood disintegrative disorder.
The new brochure, I know every child is different, but I'm still worried...A guide to the assessment and treatment of autism spectrum disorder, outlines the signs of ASD and the recommended process for assessment and treatment, including the various roles of the allied health professionals who may be involved. It was developed by the Australian Psychological Society, Speech Pathology Australia and Occupational Therapy Australia under the umbrella of Allied Health Professions Australia, with funding from the Federal Government.
"ASD principally affects a child's social skills, ability to communicate and behaviour, so interventions focus on developing life skills and the ability to interact and communicate with others, and on changing unhelpful behaviours," Dr Mathews says. "Evidence shows that an interdisciplinary approach with a team of health professionals is most effective for children with ASD. A team approach could include a paediatrician, child psychiatrist, psychologist, speech pathologist and occupational therapist."
Under the Helping with Autism package there is also funding available for a range of early intervention services for children with ASD. The brochure outlines how people can access this funding.
The brochure can be downloaded at www.autism.ahpa.com.au.
For more information, please contact:
Senior Media Coordinator
Australian Psychological Society
Ph: 03 8662 6638
The APS is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 18,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to peoples' lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.