Specialist Area

Autism Spectrum Disorder | Anxiety Disorders

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What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that results in social, communication and behavioural challenges. The young person often presents with significantly reduced functional capacity to engage in social communication and interaction. This in turn limits their ability to learn from those around them, interact with their community and form age- appropriate peer relationships. The young person also often has a reduced capacity to regulate their behaviours and emotions. This results in high levels of anxiety, rigidity and significant behavioural dysregulation and withdrawal.

How we can help

  1. Diagnostic Assessment
  2. Intervention
  3. Pathological Demand Avoidance Profile

1 | Diagnostic Assessment

MindCalm undertake family focused and age-appropriate autism diagnostic assessments, assessing children against the 7 criteria outlined in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM 5).

The streamlined assessment process ensures minimal disruption to everyone involved. A great deal of information is gathered before the assessment meeting, which means the session can be spent engaging directly with your family.

The comprehensive process includes the following:

  • Direct clinical observations
  • Liaising and gathering information from parents and other professionals who support the young person including teachers, occupational therapists, pediatricians, speech pathologists, etc.
  • In-depth clinical interview with the parents.


Diagnostic Report

Following the assessment, a comprehensive report is provided to outline the findings and specific recommendations. As part of the diagnostic process, you’re invited into a feedback session to talk about the report and its findings. This is a valuable opportunity to explore any concerns and to clarify everything in the report.

Where applicable, MindCalm can provide you with the information and the support you need to access NDIS funding.

2 | Intervention

MindCalm provides on-going individual, evidence-based intervention services for young people who have been diagnosed with ASD, and their family.

We endeavour to offer a holistic approach. Sessions are designed to gain a deep understanding of the unique circumstances surrounding the young person and family.

Our relaxed and caring environment means we can explore the root cause of behaviours. We seek to identify triggers and maintaining factors. IIn turn this helps us to develop individualised positive behavior support strategies. These are designed to maximise engagement, reduce behavioural and emotional dysregulation and minimise anxiety. Our aim is to build resilience as a foundation for emotional wellbeing.

MindCalm deliver individual support sessions in a relaxed and safe environment. Using various tools and strategies to support behavioural and emotional regulation, we increase engagement and compliance which helps decrease anxiety levels.

Successful therapy begins at home and MindCalm are here to provide support and psycho-education to parents and carers. A great deal of our work involves educating families about the disorder which helps you to respond therapeutically to the day-to-day behavioural challenges.

3 | Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

MindCalm has a special interest in the Pathological Demand Avoidance profile. I specialise in supporting young people and their families affected by PDA.

PDA is a behavioural profile of autism. It’s best understood as an anxiety driven need to avoid demands and expectations, including the demands of everyday life.

The underlying cause of PDA is extreme levels of anxiety. The anxiety comes from demands being placed on the young person. This leads to them to feel out of control which in turn triggers extreme anxiety. It’s important to understand demand avoidance is not a choice and it’s actually a lifelong disorder.


How we can help

MindCalm works closely with the young person and parents to support their understanding of the disorder. The practical strategies work to reduce anxiety and increase engagement.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

MindCalm has a strong interest in anxiety disorders, particularly in children and adolescence.

Anxiety disorders are the most common disorders of childhood and adolescence. They affect 30% of young people at some point before the age of 18. Sadly, as little as 1% of young people with anxiety seek treatment in the year their symptoms begin. Most of their anxiety symptoms go untreated for years.

Untreated anxiety tends to get worse over time because the young person learns avoidance works in reducing the anxiety, at least in the short term. However, avoidance actually increases the strength of the triggers and anxiety experienced in the long term. Teaching anxiety management skills acts as a clear method of prevention. Early intervention works well for young people with anxiety.

How we can help

MindCalm uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – the gold standard treatment protocol for anxiety. CBT equips the young person (and their parents) with specific strategies to help manage anxiety. These include education, facing fears, contingency management, parent training, cognitive restructuring, social skills and assertiveness training.

Intervention is tailored to meet the individual needs of the young person and their family. Sessions are delivered in a relaxed, non-threatening environment.