Helping the child with autism deal with a traumatic event

Traumatic events for any of us can take a lot of time and therapy to is the same deal for anyone with ASD but with the added complication of all that autism brings. I just recently had the privilage of working with a boy who was in a car as it rolled towards a dam. In class he had become more difficult to engage, and less able to respond 'on topic'. After spending time in a floortime session in which he recreated the event and was assisted to engage his higher cognitive abilities to solve various problems as they arose, he became more settled, more on topic and more logical in class. We all need someone to listen, take an interest and care. Floortime techniques enable a more sustained engagement and facilitate moving beyond the emotion of the situation to be able to get some different perspectives and choose a response. This may not be possible for everyone but for those who can, it may be a life saver!

Help...I can only talk to my son using the wheels on the bus!

There are many parents who I meet that feel stuck in routine based communication with their child. the employ methods of engaging the child in a routine that is familar -the child knows his/her part and there is a measure of meeting together. However, they long to understand what their child thinks and feels and for their child to initiate communication. I love to have a child discover themselves as a creative communicator.... to watch them feel understood and to understand others. I love to watch as parents have hope rekindled. The way this comes about is by using a basic DIR Flootime principle- that of following the child's lead. When I was first introduced to this concept i had no idea what it ment as I was so used to being the architect of the therapy session. I have discovered the power of engaging where the child is at and encourage you to do the same. I have included a link that explains the concept in terms of what steps you can take. let's know how you go.

A great resource: The national autistic society newsletter

Welcome back :)

I have just been browsing the British newsletter called The National autistic society. You have to hand it to the Brits...they are thorough and look at autism from every angle. I love finding a resource that is so practical and packed with information. if you do ....go to to this site:

The page I have chosen for you to look at is one which details the new autism specific schools that are starting up in Britian. I was particularly interested to see the teaching approach they have chosen. They describe two main approaches- those of SCERTS and TEACCH. These are two approaches that also use the developmental, individual difference, relationship based approach. That is exciting. The wheel is turning to include this  type of approach as now the preferred method of teaching children with autism- at least in some places.

Hope you enjoy browsing and percollating your thoughts about your child, their education and what could be.

Meltdowns at school

I have been talking with teachers recently about perhaps the most worrisome and distressing issues that they and the student face in the classroom- that of extreme responses on behalf of the child.

Rarely is very challanging behaviour observed in an individual therapy session so I usually request to observe the child in the classroom. This can be most enlightening. I am finding that even despite an increase in autism specific information being provided to teachers, many still struggle to apply that to their own classroom.

I have more recently been requested by teachers to instruct a class for a session and demonstrate the techniques that I am describing. Mostly I have been met with 'ah ha' moments and excitement at how much more the child with autism is engaged in the classroom activity and that the child is able to demonstrate a higher level of ability than is usually observed.

We still have a long way to go but I am encouraged that we are on the right track.


If you have a child with autism you have likely heard of the DSM-IV.  The DSM-IV stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). It is published by the American Psychiatric Association and it’s the primary manual used by clinicians to provide a formal diagnosis of autism and related disorders.The DSM-IV has been under revision for several years and a new edition, the DSM-V, has just been released. One of the most significant changes is that the separate diagnostic labels of Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and PDD-NOS have been replaced by one umbrella term “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Further distinctions will be made according to severity levels.  The severity levels are based on the amount of support needed, due to challenges with social communication and restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. For example, a person might be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3.  The DSM-V revision website says the reasons for using the umbrella term of “Autism Spectrum Disorder” are 1) the old way isn’t precise enough—different clinicians diagnose the same person with different disorders, and some change their diagnosis of the same symptoms differently from year to year, and 2) autism is defined by a common set of behaviors and it should be characterized by a single name according to severity.

The removal of the formal diagnoses of Asperger’s Disorder and PDD-NOS is a major change. People who currently hold these diagnoses will likely receive a different diagnosis when re-evaluated.