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Occupational Therapy Services Expansion

Posted on 9 February, 2019 at 18:30 Comments comments (0)


Occupational therapy (OT) is the use of assessment and intervention to develop, recover, or maintain the meaningful activities, or occupations, of individuals, groups, or communities. It is an allied health profession performed by occupational therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants. OTs often work with children and adults with mental health problems, disabilities, injuries, or impairments.

We work with children and adults or all ages, especially with autism spectrum disorders, both highly intellgent, highly functiontiong an those with sever learning difficulties. We can much such a difference in your lives as parents or care-ers. We can help you to get your child ready for school in the morning without problems, co-operate with you in the home and in the school, and reduce challening behaviours like tantrums and hitting out when angry.

We have put on a new occupational therapsit for 2019, who has a university degree in Occupational thereapy and extensive experience in special education and helping children/adults with autism.


Therapy for Adults

Posted on 30 July, 2018 at 5:00 Comments comments (0)

WE CAN HELP ASSESS and TREAT all adults with learing differences and also swallowing, movement and communciation difficulties.

Case study: James (not his real name) loved actinga nd talking ont he phone to his girlfriend who ws 28 and also had down sydnrome. We helped him learn how to live independently and also to speak more clearly. The occupational therapist helped his ability to use his deteriorating vision at his job in the city as a stationery helper to an art company.

Case Study: Mrs Smith couldnt swallow well anymore after her stroke and needed home modifications. The speech pathologist and occupational therapist went to her nursing home and to her home to help. Her son was very grateful.

Case Study: Addul (names are changed according to privacy legislation) was being challenging at his centre. Witht he help of a communciation ipad program and training to use his words and express his emotions he soon stopped and was able to point to the computer button: Im frustrated or Im hurt or Im happy and complete his art therapy as well. 

Feeding frustrations

Posted on 28 June, 2017 at 9:15 Comments comments (0)

Setting up the right “feeding environment” is vital when preparing your toddler to eat and drink.

Here are 5 tips on how you can set up the right “feeding environment”:

1. Make sure distractions like the TV and music are turned off. This will ensure your child remains focused on the task at hand- eating and drinking!

2. Make sure your child is comfortable and positioned upright in their high chair. When a child is comfortable, they are more likely to start eating and drinking.

3. Don’t feed your child too quickly. Just as you like to give yourself breaks between mouthfuls of food, your child also enjoys a break every so often.

4. Don’t wipe your child’s face after every spoonful of food. By not wiping away the food, you are allowing them to get used to the sensation of food on their face.

5. Eat as a family. With the whole family eating together, you can provide a model for how to eat. Your child also learns about the social aspect of eating.

As a parent, you may have concerns about your child’s feeding, for example:

“My child only eats certain foods”

“My child is gagging after food is put into their mouth”

"My child is having difficulty chewing food”

“My child is having difficulty drinking from a cup without spilling”

Speech pathologists are specifically trained in how to manage children with feeding difficulties. If you are concerned about your child’s feeding difficulties, give Childthink a call, they would love to help your child.

The speech pathologists will provide a thorough assessment, and use specific strategies to assist your child. 

Amelia Laurendet (Student Speech Pathologist)

How do Speech Pathologists work on social communication?

Posted on 9 May, 2017 at 20:20 Comments comments (1)

What is a social communication disorder?

A social communication disorder refers to any difficulty experienced with social communication and interaction.

This comprises of:

1. Non verbal communication skills, such as: 

  • Body language
  • Gesture
  • Posture
  • Eye contact
  • Facial expression

2. Verbal communication skills, such as:
  • Starting conversations
  • Asking questions to maintain a conversation
  • Taking turns in a conversation
  • Making comments 

3. Social cognition, such as:
  • Theory of mind: The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and realise that they may have beliefs, attitudes and feelings that contrast to your own.
  • Metalanguage: Understanding humour, jokes, sarcasm, metaphors and inferences.
  • Self-monitoring: The ability to recognise when you are behaving inappropriately, and knowing how to adjust your behaviour and communication accordingly.
  • Joint attention: The ability to focus on an object or event with another person, because you are both interested in it. 
  • Emotional regulation: The ability to control and manage your emotions, as opposed to behaving negatively such as having a tantrum or becoming upset. 

4. Social interaction, such as:
  • The ability to adjust your style and manner of communication depending on who you are talking to and where you are e.g. talking to a peer vs talking to a teacher. 
  • Using manners. 
  • The ability to resolve conflict when it arises in group play. 
  • The ability to participate and take turns in play with other children. 

What causes social communication disorder?

Social communication disorder can exist either:
1. On its own,
2. As a result of a diagnosis, such as:
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Specific Language Impairement 

How do I know if my child has social communication issues?

Attached is a helpful link from the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). The link will take you to a table that details the expected social communication skills a child should be acquiring at each stage of development.

If your child is not meeting these expectations, or you are concerned about your child’s development, please seek the support of a speech pathologist in your local area. Alternatively, give ChildThink a call, we would love to help your child.

How does a speech pathologist manage social communication issues?

There are many ways to manage social communication issues. What a speech pathologist selects will depend on a number of factors including the client’s age, interests, strengths, weaknesses and needs. Below is a list of some commonly used treatments that help to:
  • Decrease unwanted behaviours (e.g. tantrums)
  • Increase alternate positive behaviours (e.g. sharing)
  • Give your child the opportunity to practise target social skills 

Behavioural Interventions:

Positive Behaviour Support

This intervention aims to decrease the frequency of unwanted behaviours by eliminating the triggers and reinforcers of those behaviours. It also involves shaping unhelpful behaviours into positive behaviours through praise and encouragement. As you can see, this intervention focuses on positive reinforcement, rather than punishing children when they perform unwanted behaviours.


This intervention involves using items that your child is motivated by to support them in developing a skill. When your child attempts a certain skill, they are then praised and encouraged for their attempt, even if they did not execute the skill perfectly. This will encourage them to attempt the skill at another time.

Incidental teaching

This intervention involves creating opportunities for your child to practise a skill. For example, placing your child’s favourite toy/object just out of the reach (e.g. putting a teddy up on a high shelf, putting the lid back onto a container of playdough). You then wait for your child to ask for that object, or say the word you are targeting, and then give them the toy or object to reinforce their attempt.

Social communication treatments

Social stories

Commonly used for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, this method involves identifying situations where the child has behaved inappropriately and creating a story surrounding the event. The story is used to teach the child about what the appropriate behaviour is in that situation and why.

Social skills groups

This intervention involves role playing and practising various social skills with others in a group e.g. introducing yourself, starting a conversation.

Intervention at school or preschool

This involves entering the learning environment of the child (preschool, primary school etc.) and conducting therapy in that setting. Intervention involves modelling friendship and conversational skills in the playground and having children practise these skills with their peers. Practising social skills in this context teaches children about the function of and reason behind learning these skills.


This intervention involves using puppets to model social situations and appropriate social skills. Using puppets is a fun and engaging experience for children. Based on this, children are more likely to remember and attempt to use these skills in situations they come across.

Client profile: Josh (not the client's real name).

Dr Jenny identified social communication as one of Josh's areas of need based on completing a comprehensive assessment of his strengths and weaknesses. This included visiting Josh at his school and analysing how he communicated and interacted with his fellow peers. Dr Jenny is specifically working on Josh's ability to:
  • Give people eye contact
  • Greet people without having to be reminded
  • Make comments and ask questions when talking to others
  • Identify emotions (angry, sad, happy etc.) 
Dr Jenny is working on Josh’s social communication skills by using lots of fun and engaging activities. In one session, Josh practised his conversational skills by talking to one of Dr Jenny’s friends- Snailius the puppet! Dr Jenny helped Josh to ask Snalius questions and give him eye contact. This is a functional way of teaching social communication, because Josh is practising social skills in the context of a social interaction.

Dr Jenny also taught Josh about feelings using soft toys. Each toy had a distinct facial expression that represented a certain feeling or emotion. Dr Jenny prompted Josh to name each of the feelings and then feed them to Snalius the puppet. Feeding the toys to the puppet is a fun and engaging way to teach children about emotions. Learning about emotions is also highly beneficial for children. It can improve:
  • Their ability to recognise how others may be feeling (show empathy).
  • Their own behaviour, as they can name the emotion they are feeling, rather than becoming upset or displaying unwanted behaviours. 

Amelia Laurendet ChildThink Intern (Fourth year Student Speech Pathologist-Honours)

Reference List§ion=

Overview Teach skills with puppets. (2013). ASHA Leader, 18(3), 9.

Bozkus-Genc, G., & Yucesoy-Ozkan, S. (2016). Meta-analysis of pivotal response training for children with autism spectrum disorder. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 51(1), 13.

Horasan, M. M., & Birkan, B. (2015). The effects of incidental teaching on teaching children with autism spectrum disorders to demand their lost objects verbally. International Journal of Early Childhood Special Education, 7(2), 361. doi:10.20489/intjecse.65571

Jones, S. (2014). How positive behaviour support can reduce challenging behaviour. Learning Disability Practice (2014+), 17(10), 36. doi:10.7748/ldp.17.10.36.e1605

Karkhaneh, M., Clark, B., Ospina, M. B., Seida, J. C., Smith, V., & Hartling, L. (2010). Social stories™ to improve social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. Autism, 14(6), 641-662. doi:10.1177/1362361310373057

Kasari, C., Dean, M., Kretzmann, M., Shih, W., Orlich, F., Whitney, R., . . . King, B. (2016). Children with autism spectrum disorder and social skills groups at school: A randomized trial comparing intervention approach and peer composition. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57(2), 171-179. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12460


Regular Updates and Blog Posts

Posted on 15 April, 2017 at 4:10 Comments comments (0)

Click down below to access regular and frequent updates along with informative blog posts on a range of interesting and important topics.

What's in a Game?

Posted on 16 August, 2016 at 18:15 Comments comments (0)

You play games with your child simply for the fun and enjoyment of it right? Well, that doesn’t have to be their sole purpose. Many of the games you already play with your child can be slightly adapted to develop language, speech and communication skills as well!

Whatever game you do play, it will always involve turn taking. This is an important social skill that children are expected to develop around school age. This skill is crucial for your child to form friendships and cooperate with others. Make sure to talk to your child about the importance of taking turns when playing a game, and praise them when they display it.

Below are some ideas for games you can set up for your child.


Twister is an interactive way to develop your child’s vocabulary, including colours, right/left, body parts (e.g. hand, foot) and prepositions (e.g. below, above). It is also a fun way to have your child practise following instructions, which is important for preschool and school.

Backwards naming

Choosing words and challenging your child to say them backwards is a fun way to develop their pre-literacy skills. This requires them to have a representation of the word in their mind, and then manipulate and re-order the sounds in the word.

Guess Who

Guess Who is another fantastic game for developing vocabulary, including adjectives associated with; colour (e.g. brown), body parts (e.g. head), objects (e.g. glasses), shape (e.g. long) and size (e.g. small). Guess Who also gives your child the opportunity to practise asking questions, which is an important grammatical form for children to develop in order to clarify their understanding e.g. “What are we having for lunch?”. It is also important for social situations, as part of being able to maintain a conversation e.g. “What did you do at the zoo?”. Your child’s problem solving skills will also be developed, as they have to narrow their questions to identify your selected character.

Tongue twisters

You can find many examples of tongue twisters online. Some examples include; ‘She sells sea shells by the sea shore” and “Peter picked a pair of pickled peppers” As the name implies, tongue twisters are a fun and comical way to strengthen your child’s tongue muscles for speech.


Puzzles are great for developing what is called “executive function” (higher level cognitive skills such as visuo-spatial skills and organisation). When making a puzzle together, encourage your child to use prepositions e.g. “Does that piece go below that one?” and counting e.g. “That was our fourth piece”.

Eye spy

Playing eye spy will develop your child’s pre-literacy skills, in particular letter knowledge, by challenging them to identify the first letter of a word they are thinking of.

Memory card game

A memory card game is an effective way to develop your child’s short term memory skills, through having to remember where certain cards were placed. If a child is trying to decide on the second card to pick up, have them use prepositions to describe where they think the matching card is e.g. “I think it is 2 cards below this card”. When you pick up a card, use it as an opportunity to encourage your child to describe the picture, and use their descriptive vocabulary.

Rhyming game

Pick an easy word to rhyme and say words that rhyme with it, back and forth to each other e.g. cat-mat-bat-hat etc. The challenge is to see who can make the most rhyming words. Rhyme is an important pre-cursor for reading and writing.

Memory string

Begin the game by saying “On the weekend I bought a… e.g. hat”. Your child then has to add an object- “On the weekend I bought a hat and a… e.g. ball”. You then go back and forth, adding more and more objects. The aim of the game is to try and remember all of the objects. Your child will not only be encouraged to use lots of object based vocabulary, but will also develop their short term memory skills.

Articulate for kids

By having your child describe a concept or object through words alone, you are encouraging them to develop their vocabulary. It is also getting them to practise producing sentences of increasing length, which will be expected of them in primary school.

Pokemon Go

The Pokemon Go craze is well and truly about! Not to worry, there are ways in which this game can be made more educational. Stand away from your child and when they see a pokemon, have them describe its location to you. This will develop their use of prepositions e.g. “in front of the tree”. Don’t let them catch the pokemon until you have identified where the pokemon is, based on their description. Also have them describe the appearance of the pokemon to you, as part of developing their descriptive vocabulary e.g. “It is orange, is small and has a smooth head”.

Alphabet game

Start by naming a word beginning with ‘a’. Continue back and forth with your child, naming words beginning with each of the letters in alphabet. This will develop your child’s pre-literacy skills, in particular their letter knowledge. You can make the game more challenging by narrowing the task to a category e.g. animals.

While games such these are fun and beneficial for your child, if you have any concerns regarding your child, please refer them to a qualified Speech Pathologist such as A/Prof Jenny Harasty for a communication assessment. 

Amelia Laurendet (Student Speech Pathologist)

Stimulate Language

Posted on 24 July, 2016 at 22:05 Comments comments (0)

Stimulate Language



Today I am going to talk about the importance of language development in children. Major learning takes place during the early years of a child’s life, and being able to understand the foundations of language is a precursor for their future success.

How can you help cultivate strong language skills in a child with ASD? It is important to talk and respond to you child. Remember, they understand more than they can say! Also, it is vital you understand your child’s behavior. Take note of what your child likes and dislikes. Everyone prefers learning in ways they enjoy.

If you are struggling to stimulate language in your child with ASD you must determine what their sensory preferences are. Does your daughter dislike getting her hair washed? This could be a sign that she is over-sensitive to touch. Does your son appear not to hear you when you call his name? He could be under-sensitive to sound. It is vital that you notice the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, and movements your child desires or avoids.

In order to stimulate learning you must next figure out what type of learner your child is. There are five main types. One is a rote learner, this type of learner may memorize information and can recite it word for word, but they might not know the meaning behinds the words. Your child might also be a gestalt learner where they can memorize sentences as whole chunks, but do not understand the meaning. For example, you could tell your child “Walk to the car” and they may do it, but then if you tell them “Walk to your room” they may still walk to the car. This is because they associated “walk to...” with one specific action. Visual learners are also common, this child will learn by seeing and not hearing. Another type is the hands-on learner, which includes kids who learn best by touching things, they often loves to swing, push, and move. Finally, there are auditory learners, this is unusual, but some children with ASD enjoy talking and listening to others to learn. Observing your child and how they learn will help motivate language and communication. (More Than Words).

Children with ASD learn in unique ways, so remember to play to your child’s strengths. If they enjoy the movement of fingers, then use their fingers to introduce numbers and counting. All children love to succeed and they will with time. Therapy with a Speech Pathologist or Occupational therapist often include parent training. Working with these experts can help discover the best intervention for each individual. Placing your child in an environment filled with motivating people and items will encourage communication and future success.




-Molly Cagle



Sussman, Fern and Robin Baird Lewis. More Than Words. Toronto, Ont.: Hanen Program, 2012. Print.


CELF Preschool-2

Posted on 24 July, 2016 at 22:05 Comments comments (1)

When your child reaches an age between 3 and 6, The CELF Preschool-2 test can be administered to determine any language difficulties. Written by Elisabeth Wiig, Wayne Secord, and Eleanor Semel, this is a well-respected and practical tool that helps clinicians target problematic areas, and determine services for preschool children with disabilities. This is not the only version available, CELF tests can be used for ages ranging from 5:00-21:00. In regards to language, there many different areas involved with these tests.

The main 9 concepts the CELF Preschool-2 tests are as followed:

1. Sentence Structure

2. Word Structure

3. Expressive Vocabulary

4. Concepts and Following Directions

5. Recalling Sentences

6. Basic Concepts

7. Word Classes

8. Recalling Sentences in Context

9. Phonological Awareness


These tests are paired with books that are child-friendly and filled with colorful visual stimuli to elicit the best results. Each of these sections plays an important role in the classification of language impairments in young children.

For Sentence Structure, the child may be asked to point to “The duck is walking towards the girl”. This is used to evaluate their capacity to interpret the sentence spoken to them. This is a skill that can be developed by a parent consistently speaking to their child about what is going on in their own environment!

Word Structure is used to determine the child’s ability to apply the rules of morphology and appropriately use pronouns.

The objective of the Expressive Vocabulary section is to determine the child’s ability to label pictures. For example, the child may be shown a picture of a girl riding her bike and asked, “What is this girl doing?” Acceptable answers include riding, biking, pedaling, and ride a bike.

Concepts and Following Directions can be a difficult task for some children, but this will get easier as a child gets older and continues to learn! In this section your child will be instructed, “When I point to the a tiger, you point to a giraffe. Go.” If the child follows these instructions, then they have done it correctly.

Next is Recalling Sentences, or the ability to imitate sentence without changing the meaning. This is a prime example of how normal and abnormal language development can be distinguished.

Basic Concepts is a section in which your child will be shown three pictures: a hot dog, an ice cream cone, and a piece of cake. Then the child will be told to point to the one that is cold. This is a skill that you can practice with your child at home!

The objective of the section Word Classes is to evaluate your child’s understanding of how words relate to each other. For example “How do the words slide and swing go together?”

Recalling Sentences in Context evaluates your child’s ability to repeat a phrase that is spoken to them.

Phonological Awareness is the final section and it evaluates your child’s awareness of sound structures of language and their ability to manipulate those sounds. (CELF Preschool 2 Australian)

Following these tests, two checklists must be completed by the clinician, parent, or other caregiver. The first is the Pre-Literacy Rating Scale; the objective is to identify pre-literacy skills that may influence the child’s development of reading and writing skills. Next is the Descriptive Pragmatics Profile, which is used to identity nonverbal and verbal pragmatic deficits that may negatively influence social and academic communication in context. (CELF Preschool 2 Australian)

In Australia and New Zealand 342 children were assessed for the CELF Preschool-2 and they ranged in age from 3:00-6:11. Half of the children were boys and the other have were girls. This project was conducted at Macquarie University, Sydney by Dr Jane Carstairs and Dr Rosemarie Lloyd, with the assistance of Ms. Lauren Krause to determine the appropriate standardization.

So how do you know this test is valid? The CELF Preschool-2 Australian test’s validity comes from a study conducted in the United States. There were 62 males and 58 females, and they were all tested on two separate occasions, these results were compared. Stability was calculated using Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient. The result found to be excellent across all ages for Recalling Sentence and Expressive Vocabulary. Good for Word Structure, Concepts and Following Direction, Basic Concepts, and Word Classes. And found to be adequate for the sections Recalling Sentences in Context, Phonological Awareness, Pre-Literacy Rating Scale, and Descriptive Pragmatics Profile.

Getting your child formally tested can be difficult, but Jenny has found much success with getting kids to complete their work and stay motivated, while having fun doing so! It is important to have your child’s strengths and weaknesses assessed in order to better prepare them for their future!



-Molly Cagle




Wiig, Elisabeth, Wayne Secord, and Eleanor Semel. CELF Preschool 2 Australian. 2nd ed. St. Marrickville: Harcourt Assessment, 2006. Print.


A day in the life our occupational therapists

Posted on 18 July, 2016 at 2:05 Comments comments (0)


Lucy: A day in the life of one of our Occupational Therapists



For Lucy, each new day is as unique as the children she treats. She works in a variety of setting from an elementary school to a clinic, and this flexibility can cultivate great progress in her clients.

Kids spend a large portion of their week in a school setting, so play skills are vital. This OT aims to guide children towards independence; this encompasses teaching healthy interactions with peers, proper body language, and toilet timing. Toilet timing is when a caregiver regularly places the child on the toilet at timed intervals to provide ample opportunity for the child to go. Lucy also works with the parents to create scripts for every day tasks. These scripts must target a concrete single behavior that is in need of management. The goal must be simple and presented regularly to the child. Lucy has found this method to be successful in many areas including using the toilet.

Repetition is important when dealing with children with various disabilities. Handedness can be a confusing concept for some Lucy’s clients, but with repetition, positivity, and encouragement she can help them figure out their hand preference. Handedness is an important concept for a child to learn at a young age, as it influences their muscle memory and literacy skills.

Lucy also uses an approach called Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA. ABA is an evidence-based method that helps record progress in children. Lucy works with her clients accumulate transferable skills from a classroom or clinic setting to a normal social setting. Lucy also focuses on the training the parents, this is a vital concept because “teachable moments” during daily activities are crucial to the child’s development.

For Occupational Therapists, establishing a relationship with the family is just as important as the relationship with the child. Especially when it comes to feeding issues. Lucy uses a program called Sensational Meal Times. This is a program that was developed by an OT and Dietitian in Australia, and has provided positive results. Lucy works with the parents to figure out what foods, textures, and smells the child will routinely encounter in the home. Then, she aims to find foods that are similar to what they always eat. The goal is to expand the child’s food palate, making meal times healthier and more enjoyable.

The life of an Occupational Therapist is never boring. Lucy’s day demands various skills and approaches, but she makes it look so easy!


-Molly Cagle