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No, we do not practice ABA. We use a variety of techniques such as Child led therapy, DIR Floortime, ESDM, TEEACH etc. 


Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition which is usually diagnosed in the first 3 years of life. Generally parents become concerned when their child has delays in speech development, limited social relatedness, and restricted interests and activities. The child may avoid direct eye contact and exhibit odd behaviors such as focusing on parts of objects (e.g. the spinning wheel of a toy car). There may be unusual motor movements such as hand flapping, self stimulation or walking on toes. 

Although the cause of autism is unknown, it is generally believed that etiology may be due to multiple factors. Many genetic, environmental, metabolic and neurological conditions that affect the normal functioning of the brain are being researched. The diagnosis of autism requires disturbances in each of three domains: (1) social relatedness, (2) communication/play, and (3) restricted interests and activities. 

  • Social relatedness includes marked impairment in non-verbal communication, peer relationships and social-emotional reciprocity. 

  • Communication/play includes either a delay or total lack of spoken language and lack of developmentally-appropriate make-believe or social play. 

  • Restricted interests and activities includes encompassing preoccupations, adherence to non-functional routines or rituals, stereotypes and motor mannerisms. 

Treatment planning is complex since each child has different strengths and deficits. Evidence that earlier detection and provision of services improves long term prognosis makes early diagnosis particularly important to improve the child’s adaptive skills and future functioning. The diverse expression of these disorders both across and within individuals presents particular challenges for clinical diagnosis and treatment.


However, ASD is not only characterised by difficulties in social interaction and communication, restrictive and repetitive behaviours but also sensory processing integration. There are a vast number of ways that Autism manifests, as a result, it is referred to as a spectrum. Many people with ASD have difficulty processing everyday sensory input or information, such as sounds, tastes, sights, smells and movements. 

There are 8 sensory systems and ASD individuals can be hyper or hypo sensitive in any or all of these areas. This can have a profound impact on the individuals life. Individuals who struggle to deal with all this information are likely to become stressed or highly anxious in a given situation, resulting in what may appear as a tantrum or meltdown.  This is what it may look like when any of these 8 sensory systems are affected:


Visual - Sight

  • Avoids eye contact​

  • Peripheral gazing (looks out the corner of the eye)

  • Closes eyes 

  • Stares at bright lights

  • Seeks out flashing lights

  • Watches videos or objects repetitively 

Auditory- Sound/Hearing 

  • Does not respond to their name 

  • Holds objects up to their ear 

  • Talks really loud or really soft

  • Turns up volume really high

  • Becomes upset by loud noises

  • Anxiety in crowds and noisy environments 

  • Makes noises or sounds like humming etc. 


Tactile- Touch​

  • Touches everything ​

  • Unaware of pain, temperature, pressure and their own strength 

  • Self injurious behaviour related to seeking touch

  • May like being wrapped really tight or tries to fit into small spaces

  • Dislikes getting their hair cut

  • Does not like being touched

  • Sensitive to clothing, tags, socks, shoes etc.

  • Upset by face or hands becoming dirty or touching certain substances or textures when eating


Gustatory- Taste

  • Likes highly flavoured foods​

  • Has poor oral control

  • Stuffs food into mouth or eats really fast

  • Known as a picky eater

  • Struggles with brushing teeth

  • Dislikes dirty face or hands

Olfactory- Smell

  • Smells objects/people​

  • Gags or vomits around certain scents

  • Sensitive to scents

  • Prefers strong scents whether good or bad

Proprioceptive-The awareness sense

This is the sensory system which tells us where our body parts are, in relation to each other. It gives us information of how much force to use, allowing us to do something like cracking an egg without crushing it. When this sense is affected, the individual or child:

  • May have difficulty maintaining body posture, even when sitting on a chair, they may appear clumsy, rough or too forceful.

  • They often seek oral input, like grinding teeth, biting or chewing on objects. 

  • Unwilling to jump on trampolines, swing or play on playground equipment.

  • Paces

  • Jumps

  • Rocks

  • Flaps hands

  • Holds onto objects throughout the day 

Vestibular- Movement

The movement or balance system which gives information about ​where our head or body are in the space around us. This sense helps us to stay upright when we sit, stand or walk. An individual or child sensitive to this system may appear to:

  • Lose balance easily

  • Have a poor sense of rhythm

  • Avoid playground equipment

  • Engages in swinging, rocking or spinning

  • Gets motion sickness easily 

  • Move 'stiffly'

  • Move head and/or body repetitively  

Interoceptive- Internal sense

This is sometimes referred to as the 'hidden' sense, the interoceptive system gives us the ability to feel what is happening inside our body. It plays a role in influencing emotions and a sense of well-being. It is also responsible for detecting changes in our internal state. These include hunger and fullness, thirst, temperature, heart and breathing rate, touch, muscle tension, itch, nausea, sleepiness and more. This can present as:

  • Difficulty noticing when you are hungry, thirsty or need the bathroom

  • Unaware of when your body is overheating

  • Becoming upset if you are hungry, thirsty or need the bathroom


Parents and relatives should be concerned about their infant or toddler if they notice any of the following developmental delays or behavioral problems and discuss concerns with their child’s pediatrician to obtain appropriate referrals for evaluation: 

  • lack of or delay in development of spoken language .

  • repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects). 

  • little or no eye contact. 

  • lack of interest in peer relationships. 

  • lack of spontaneous or make-believe play. 

  • persistent fixation on parts of objects.


Children diagnosed with autism tend to process and respond to information in the environment in unique ways. In some cases, parents are frightened because they exhibit aggressive and/or self-injurious behaviors which are difficult to manage. 

  • Insistence on sameness in routines 

  • Difficulty in expressing needs verbally, using gestures or pointing instead of words 

  • Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language

  • Laughing (and/or crying) for no apparent reason; showing distress for reasons not apparent to others 

  • Prefers to be alone; aloof manner evident to strangers and family members 

  • Tantrums and low frustration tolerance 

  • Difficulty in initiating social contact with others

  • Uncomfortable with physical contact even when given with affection such as a hug 

  • Little or no eye contact even when spoken to directly 

  • Unresponsive to normal teaching methods 

  • Plays with toys as objects (example bangs a toy car as a block rather than as a moving vehicle) 

  • Focus on spinning objects such as a fan or the propeller of a toy helicopter 

  • Obsessive attachment to particular objects 

  • Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain 

  • No real fears of danger despite obvious risks of harm. 

  • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity 

  • Impaired fine motor and gross motor skills 

  • Non-responsive to verbal instructions; often appears as if child is deaf although hearing tests in normal range 


There are no specific treatments to “cure” autism. Each child with an autism spectrum disorder has a unique constellation of developmental delays, speech deficits, social and cognitive impairments. Therefore, comprehensive treatment plans need to be developed to target each child's unique profile of strengths and functional impairments.


There are no medication treatments that treat the core symptoms of ASD. However, often children on the spectrum may exhibit repetitive, stereotypical or self injurious behaviors that can be distressing to both the child and the parent. In cases when a child may be hitting himself repetitively, has mood instability or is aggressive to other children or family members, medication intervention may be warranted. The FDA has approved use of the medication risperidone to target aberrant behaviors of autism such as severe mood instability and aggression. There are other medications that are currently being studied to help reduce problem behaviors in ASD but there are no other FDA approved treatments. Pharmacological interventions may increase the ability of persons with ASD to profit from educational and other interventions, and to remain in less restrictive environments through the management of severe and challenging accompanying behaviors. Frequent targets for medication include features such as aggression, self-injurious behavior, hyperactivity, inattention, anxiety, compulsive-like behaviors, other repetitive or stereotypic behaviors, and sleep disturbances. Sometimes SSRIs are used to address symptoms of mood or anxiety in children and adolescents with ASD.


There are many reasons that a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders is not able to learn in a regular classroom setting. These include but are not limited to the following reasons: 

  • coexisting learning disabilities. 

  • coexisting intellectual disability. 

  • speech and communication delays. 

  • aggression to self or others. 

  • affective Instability. 

  • require individual supervision to participate in the classroom. 

  • social reciprocity problems. 

Therefore special efforts need to be made by parents and caregivers to explore options so that the child’s abilities are maximized. Availability of resources differs by community so it is important to contact a child and adolescent psychiatrist or pediatrician to discuss the options available in your community.

Questions? Contact us today, our team is always ready to help.

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