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Our team of clinical staff consists of people that have developed in-depth knowledge and expertise in autism through work and academia. Our team are made up of;
Speech & Language Therapist (SLT’s)
Our Speech and Language Therapists provide treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with speech, language and communication and/or eating, drinking or swallowing.
Using specialist skills, SLT’s work directly with individuals and their families and carers to provide them with tailored support to maximise their communication potential. They also work closely with teachers and other health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, other allied health professionals and psychologists to develop individual treatment programmes.
Our Lead Peer Support Practitioner Wenna Fullerton (an incredible female autistic leader and mum to a beautiful autistic young lady) review of the BBC One my family and autism.
“Up until watching Christine and Paddy McGuinness’ documentary last night ‘Our Family and Autism’, other than what the couple were famous for, I didn’t know much about their family life other than their three children are Autistic. Of course I’ve heard the good and the bad, but I was intrigued to see how their documentary would portray Autism.
I know exactly how she feels as a late diagnosed #autistic woman and parent to an Autistic child however, she has an advantage. She already has a voice. A voice that is well established in the UK. In addition to her fame, she is an ambassador for The National Autistic Society and with 578k followers on Instagram, she has her platform ready and it definitely helps if your husband does too.
I did feel anxious that sharing their story would damage the Autistic community in some way. Another part of me was glad that they were utilising their platform to shine a light on Autism. With such little understanding, it’s important to shout about it, to educate and advocate for change. Hot chocolate and PJ’S on at the ready, I tuned in to watch it.
What was wrong about it?
Knowing a pediatrician diagnosed the children, it makes sense with little understanding before this, they have adopted medical language such as ‘symptoms’ and ‘with Autism’. Sometimes they got it right, but most of the time they didn’t. To then hear the SEN teacher use the same language when talking to a class of students was disappointing. Whilst some people don’t mind person first language, the majority of the Autistic community prefers identity first language. It’s all personal preference and anyone teaching, training or learning should ask which is preferred.
The ‘Beige food’. Whilst it is common for Autistic individuals to have sensory issues with food, not all do and this plays massively into a stereotype.
“Do they understand what love is?” Ironically Paddy has taken this literally. Of course they know.
Invisible Autism? Firstly, you can’t see it. I really tried to get what Paddy was attempting to explain clumsily here, however he just ended up backing up the myth that the Autistic spectrum is linear when it’s not and we don’t have the capacity to feel when it’s quite the contrary.
Simon Baron Cohen explaining that he’s been studying Autism for 35 years and doesn’t think he will ever fully understand it. He’s right, he won’t.
Paddy made a girl cry by trying to relate. I saw her heart sink before my very eyes when he downplayed her anxiety of being late to school. We did see her again, later in the documentary looking happier and he redeemed himself by talking to her about her horse.
Christine says “I see the other side where I think how awful it must be to not understand your children or wishing they didn’t have this condition” and Paddy explaining he had been diagnosed with depression because of how all the things you have to deal with as a parent to children with autism. It’s clear they have spent some time grieving over not having neurotypical children, there’s no denying that, but this poor attempt at being honest and raw came across as heartless.
They haven’t told their 5 year old or 8 year old twins, they’re Autistic yet. This is their choice, they’re their children, however I disagree with them on this completely. Self identify is vital for any child growing up and being Autistic is a huge part of that. It helps if you know.
These parts were all hard to hear, but honestly I expected worse.
What was right with it?
Talking about some of the misconceptions such as being Autistic must mean we are all good at maths. Simon Baron Cohen debunks the connection between Vaccines and Autism. He also said Autistic people should be allowed to be who they are. Never a truer word spoken.
The paediatrician gave a very brief overview of masking and looked a bit out of her depth at times, but it was good to hear about the exhaustion and anxiety as a result of masking.
Christine gets it, mostly. It was refreshing to hear Christine talk so beautifully about her children and how she understands them without making it all about her.
They raised common concerns about the transition to secondary school and living independently. As a parent, these are huge concerns, but it doesn’t mean they can’t.
Paddy is realising it’s good to talk about it. It’s not only good, it’s important.
Paddy explaining that every family’s experience is different. This is so easily forgotten. If you take anything away from watching this documentary, it should be this.
Overall, it was a tough watch in places, but it’s bringing Autism acceptance to the forefront of conversation. Regardless of how this documentary portrayed being Autistic, it has shined a light on Autism.
This documentary was only about their family journey, not my family, not yours. Just one experience. It wasn’t awful and those of us who advocate about Autism, share our lived experience with being Autistic will still be here to set the record straight and educate.”
Our team has several years experience in assessing female presentation. We have in-depth knowledge and skills around the various camouflaging strategies that people may use to manage and navigate social interactions in a neurotypical world. Typically, when people think of ‘camouflaging’ behaviours, they assume this is just masking; But we know many will use compensatory and assimilation strategies as well. During the diagnosis process, we use various tools to inform the assessments as well as using the peer support practitioners lived experience of using such strategies. This supports the clinicians to identify subtleties that neurotypicals may miss or not be as attune too.
Our team of experienced clinicians are highly trained in the ADOS-2 and will reliably identify females presentation. We use the ADI-R alongside the ADOS-2, this is ‘gold standard’ (as described by NICE) to support identification of this profile. This process ensures thorough assessment as we do not solely rely on the observation to reach the diagnosis.
PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) or sometimes referred to as EDA (Extreme Demand Avoidance) is still a relatively new term in the medical profession and there is limited research about this. Medics and professionals like facts and evidence base, so some are still not sure about this profile. Others however, have experienced supporting someone with PDA and have seen the positive impact of adopting PDA friendly approaches for the individual, therefore more likely to be accepting of this profile. Autism Oxford UK recognise and have supported many people with this profile while also sharing this knowledge and strategies building with services and wider support networks.
Our knowledge on PDA is always growing and the evidence base is emerging.
The Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale- revised (RAADS-R) is a tool that can be used when assessing adults, who do not have a informant from when they were younger than 5 years. The tool is used as part of a interview to gain qualitative information around social interaction, communication, sensory and circumscribed interests that might be present before the age of 16 and now as an adult. It can also be useful in identifying other conditions and needs.
The ADI-R is an extended interview designed to elicit a full range of information needed to help assess and diagnose Autistic Spectrum Condition. The interview focuses primarily on the three domains specified as diagnostic criteria in the ICD-10 and DSM-IV; language and communication; reciprocal social interaction and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behaviours and interests (behaviours which are rare in non-affected individuals).
The ADOS-2 is a standardised, semi-structured observational assessment used to assess communication, reciprocal social interaction, imagination/creativity, stereotyped behaviours, and restricted interests to inform diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition. *Due to PPE requirements as set out by COVID-19 guidance or if we are completing the assessment remotely, we do not calculate the scores from this assessment but use the information gather inform diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition. This is inline with the approach occurring nationally within diagnostic services. This assessment is completed with the young person or adults we are assessing independently from their caregiver where possible.
There are several profiles of how someone’s autistic strengths and differences may present. Some of these profiles have a label such as ‘female presentation’ (not just for females), PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) and Savant. When we complete diagnostic assessments for individuals, we think it is important to try and best understand your profile, so we can make recommendations of things the world around you can do to make things a little easier for you. It can also help us to think of things we can support you with in developing certain skills or ‘fine tuning’ some of the strategies you are using for example conflagrating and when to use and not to use so your mental health is not impacted.
Occupational therapy provides practical support to enable people to overcome barriers which prevent them from doing the activities (occupations) that matter to them. This support can increase the persons independence and quality of life. Occupational Therapists can help with:
• Sensory Assessments
• Developing Independent Living skills
Our psychosocial support service is aimed at providing meaningful occupation and wellbeing.
We are able to provide support with developing social skills to enable you to make and maintain friendships and relationships.
This can be done through one to one support, workshop-based activities and Lego therapy. Lego therapy is a great way of practicing social skills, communicating and team working. Suitable for all ages.
Charged at £70 per hour. (Block bookings are recommended and offered at a discounted rate).
Our diagnostic assessments involve a detailed family and developmental history and observational assessment of the individual.
Your assessment is carried out by a minimum of two team members that work alongside our Peer Support Practitioners who provide invaluable support to the individual and/or their support network through the process.
All our assessments are completed in line with NICE guidelines.
*Please check with your local authority that they accept an independent assessment if being used for an EHCP application.
Our Autism Assessments are charged at £1,500. This can be paid in instalments or as a one-off payment