Autism in Brisbane

Autism Psychologist Brisbane

Chatting with an autism psychologist Brisbane.

Amy Kelly is clinical psychologist. Along with her team at Nest Psychology, she has been working with kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Brisbane for several years. To understand Autism Spectrum Disorder more, I asked her some questions about the condition.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental condition which affects the way that people communicate and interact with others. It’s commonly diagnosed in childhood, after parents notice that their child’s development seems different to other kids.

What does “spectrum” mean?

 It means that there is a big range of presentations of Autism Spectrum Disorder, from mild to very severe. Nowadays, kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder are diagnosed from level 1 (mild) to level 3 (severe). Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder used to be referred to as “Asperger’s Syndrome”.

What are the first things that parents usually notice?

Parents often notice that their ASD kids play differently to other kids. They might have an obsessive interest in certain objects, like drains or fans. They also seem to want to play with other kids less. ASD kids also often have sensory sensitivities, and appear to overreact to small things, like changes to routine. Meltdowns can occur often and can be really intense.

Are all kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder the same?

No. The saying goes “If you’ve met one person with Autism Spectrum Disorder, you’ve met one person with Autism Spectrum Disorder”. Some kids have good eye contact, others struggle to look you in the eye. Some kids are extraverts, others hide under the coffee table. For this reason, it can be difficult to diagnose a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

autism psychologist brisbane


Can your psychologists at Nest Psychology diagnose children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Brisbane?

Yes. We have tools to measure whether children meet the criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (questionnaires). Our psychologists have also worked with heaps of kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Therefore, we are great at observing behaviour and taking a good developmental history from parents.

What happens after your psychologist suggests that a child has Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Our psychologists are a bit like detectives. We gather information from several sources and then send a letter to a paediatrician with our observations. For funding purposes, the paediatrician makes the official diagnosis.

If a parent thinks that their child might be on the Autism Spectrum, should they get help straight away, or just wait and see?

They should book in to see a psychologist straight away. From our clinical experience, early intervention is the best! Working with a child’s growing brain, a psychologist can teach explicit social and emotional skills that will set them up well for their future. With a referral from a GP (Mental Health Care Plan), ten psychology sessions are subsidised by Medicare.

For this matter, even if a young child is showing signs of emotional distress and social difficulties, our psychologists can start treatment without a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What if a parent worries about a child being labelled? They might think that a label of Autism is terrible and might make their child’s life difficult.

Our experience is that after the initial shock, parent’s often feel great relief after obtaining a diagnosis. They understand that their parenting is not to blame for the child’s behaviour. They are also empowered to support their child to develop. For parents who worry about stigma, they carefully pick and choose who to tell.

What are some of your success stories?

There are so many! Here are a few …

  • a 4-year-old boy who would not talk to anyone is now a socially confident Preppy, who is already reading;
  • a 3-year-old boy who could not separate from his mother, and clung to her like a koala, confidently takes charge in our play sessions;
  • a 6-year-old boy with no concept of personal space, who would sniff my clothes, now is a happy 7-year-old boy with good social skills;
  • a 3-year-old boy who had regular, aggressive meltdowns, is now one of the most popular and intelligent kids in his Grade 2 class;
  • A 4-year-old girl who did not have any friends because of her shyness and obsessive interests is now being invited to birthday parties.

Wow! What kind of treatment did you do?

As well as education to parents about Autism Spectrum Disorder and parenting support, our psychologists explicitly teach children about their feelings and thoughts, through play, role playing and games. Our psychologists work to increase emotional awareness, regulation, empathy and social skills. Our psychologists love working with kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder and look for their unique strengths to build their self-esteem.

What kind of strengths have you seen in kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Our psychologists believe that kids with ASD are incredible. Here’s a brief list of some strengths we have seen:

  • A self-published 9-year-old author on the subject of Greek Mythology
  • A 4-year-old who reads books already!
  • An 8-year-old with exceptional mental arithmetic
  • An 8-year-old with supreme empathy and compassion for people and animals
  • A 3-year-old who can dismantle electrical devices


What advice do you have for parents of kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

You are not alone. There are lots of people to support you. With support, both you and your child will develop skills and confidence.

If you and your family would like autism psychologist Brisbane please contact Nest Psychology