Autism Spectrum Disorders

Thrive Psychology Clinic > Autism Spectrum Disorders > Autism Spectrum Disorders

June 3, 2020 / By thadmin

What I need to know to help my child with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  1. What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
  2. What types of therapies do Thrive Psychology Clinic provide for children and youths with ASD?
  3. Education in Singapore for children with ASD.
  4. Parenting a child with ASD.
    • Support and resources for parents.

 

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) refers to a spectrum or scope of developmental disorders characterised by persistent deficits in:

  • Socialisation and communication
  • Restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, and/or activities

It has been estimated that 1 out of 150 children today has some form of ASD – an umbrella term that includes diagnoses such as Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).

ASD is often diagnosed within the initial years of a person’s life. The spectrum in ASD refers to various degrees of severity and levels of functioning (refer to Table 1).

 

Table 1

Severity Level Social Communication Restricted, repetitive behaviours
Level 3 “Requiring very substantial support” Severe deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills cause severe impairments in functioning, very limited initiation of social interactions, and minimal response to social overtures from others.   For example, a person with few words of intelligible speech who rarely initiates interaction and, when he or she does, makes unusual approaches to meet needs only and responds to only very direct social approaches.  
Inflexibility of behaviour, extreme difficulty coping with change, or other restricted/ repetitive behaviours markedly interfere with functioning in all spheres. Great distress/ difficulty changing focus or action.
Level 2 “Requiring substantial support” Marked deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills; social impairments apparent even with supports in place; limited initiation of social interactions; and reduced or abnormal responses to social overtures from others.   For example, a person who speaks simple sentences, whose interaction is limited to narrow special interests, and who has markedly odd nonverbal communication.  


Inflexibility of behaviour, difficulty coping with change, or other restricted/ repetitive behaviours appear frequently enough to be obvious to the casual observer and interfere with functioning in a variety of contexts. Distress and/ or difficulty changing focus or action.
Level 1 “Requiring support”


Without supports in place, deficits in social communication cause noticeable impairments. Difficulty initiating social interactions, and clear examples of atypical or unsuccessful responses to social overtures of others. May appear to have decreased interest in social interactions.   For example, a person who is able to speak in full sentences and engages in communication but whose to-and-fro conversation with others fails, and whose attempts to make friends are odd and typically unsuccessful.  

Inflexibility of behaviour causes significant interference with functioning in one or more contexts. Difficulty switching between activities. Problems of organization and planning hamper independence.
Adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V)

Contact us to set up an appointment to receive a psychological assessment of your child.

What types of therapies do Thrive Psychology Clinic provide for children and youths with ASD?

At Thrive Psychology Clinic, we recognise the uniqueness of each individual. Hence, we are always broadening our therapeutic services to ensure that all our clients’ have their mental well-being cared for in an individualised manner.

Here are some of the therapies that may apply:

  • Behavioural Therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Neurocognitive Therapy (can be used to complement Behavioural Therapy)
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Animal-assisted Therapy

At Thrive Psychology Clinic, we utilise an evidence-based practice of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). ABA is an approach used in Behavioural Therapy to bring about meaningful and positive change in behaviours. Techniques and principles in ABA can be used in structured situations such as in a classroom environment as well as in everyday situations such as during family dinner time or even at the neighbourhood playground.

While ABA therapy sessions typically involve one-on-one interaction between the Behavioural Therapist and the client, group instruction can likewise prove useful.

A deficit in social motivation is a characteristic of autism. Children with autism typically lack the motivation to learn new tasks and involve themselves with interacting with others in social situations. Some traits that may be observed when a child with autism is placed in social situations are:

  • Temper tantrums
  • Crying
  • Non-compliance
  • Inattention
  • Fidgeting
  • Staring
  • Attempting to leave
  • Unwillingness

The use of the ABA methodology can increase the motivational desire in children with autism, therefore, significantly enhancing the effectiveness of their learning environment.

Education in Singapore for children with ASD

In Singapore, there are several Special Education (SPED) schools that have been established to support children and youths with special needs. Refer to this informational guide by our Ministry of Education (scroll to page 82 for a list of SPED schools that may be applicable for your child with special needs).

Learn how to identify a school that would best support your child with Special Educational Needs (SEN).

Prepare criteria for entry to SPED schools which typically include:

  • A diagnosis
  • Intelligence Quotient (IQ) assessment
  • Adaptive behaviour assessment [may also include school (on-site) observations]
  • Psychologist’s report

Enquire about our assessments available.

Parenting a child with ASD

Parenting in itself is not an easy feat. At Thrive Psychology Clinic, we recognise the need to support parents and caregivers through:

  • Educating caregivers of children and youths with special needs e.g., workshops and webinars at Thrive Psychology Clinic
  • Providing advice on how to manage their stress
  • Developing their skill in identifying the ABC’s (i.e., antecedent, behaviour, and consequence) such as P.O.W.E.R. in Behavioural Therapy (preview video displayed below)
  • Encouraging caregivers to accept their child with special needs and not feel despair
  • Regularly providing complimentary educational resources by subscribing to our mailing list and social media platforms