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Autism Support

At ACT to Connect, we are dedicated to providing specialised support services for young people in Northern Ireland with autism, and their families.

Our team of highly experienced professionals understand the unique strengths and environmental challenges faced by Autistic individuals (ASD) and strive to create a nurturing, compassionate, and inclusive environment for their growth and development. We exist to empower autistic individuals to achieve their goals and to live a life they love.

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Who we help

Whether your child is awaiting diagnosis, or has received an ASD diagnosis, iff they are having a hard time we can help.  We support autistic young people who experience challenges with all aspects of life, such as those struggling to communicate their needs, those who want help making friends, those struggling with their interception and emotions, and those who require support as they transition to school settings and adulthood, to name a few.

Our team of therapists provide support to families across Northern Ireland.  Our in-person support is provided in the greater Belfast area and anywhere in County Down from Newry, to Newcastle and to Newtownards.  Online support can be provided anywhere in Northern Ireland but also Ireland, UK or Internationally.

Take a look at our case studies to learn more about some young people on the spectrum we have supported, and the types of difficulties they experienced.

If you would like to access support as a parent, visit our 'Parent Support' page for more information on group and individual support models.

In addition to children/young adults and their parents/carers, we also provide autism support services to other professionals working in the autism support field. Go to our group learning page to learn more.

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Autism Support Packages

Our services are a combination of in-person and online support. In-person services have the advantages of both modelling and hands on coaching. Online services can be a more discrete and convenient form of coaching and consultation for some. Choose from individualised, tailored 1:1 models and more general group training and discovery sessions described below.

Before beginning any 1:1 services, a free initial consultation will be provided. This enables us to reach a better understanding of your loved ones needs and which course of action will best suit those needs.

Our specialised support services for young people with autism and their families include:

Comprehensive 1:1 Naturalistic Developmental Behavioural Intervention

This model is designed to support your child in a broad range of developmental areas such as communication, language comprehension, social connection, and adaptive living goals.  All goals will be decided in consultation with you, keeping your child’s motivations and preferences in mind in order to ensure they are meaningful and easily integrated into everyday life in a way that is functional for your child. An Act to Connect consultant will provide guidance and support through hands on training, modelling skills, and feedback to you and a direct therapist who works with your child.

Focused 1:1 Naturalistic Developmental Behavioural Intervention

Therapy is parent-led and therapist guided.  The focus of therapy will be on one, or at maximum, two goals at a time. Examples of skills parents often choose are teaching picture exchange communication, toileting, speech to communicate,  initiating play with peers, independent dressing etc. The priority goal chosen will be guided by parent priority, child preference, and our assessment of your child’s immediate functional needs.  Training and support is provided by your Act to Connect Consultant through hands on training, modelling with your child the skills you will use to support them outside of consultation.

Emotional Wellbeing for Autistic Young People

A neurodivergent child, especially one with a learning delay, is six times more likely to develop a mental health difficulty during their lifetime.   Autistic burnout, which can be understood as a mismatch between the expectations of a neurotypical world and the sensitivities and capacity of the neurodivergent young person, is characterised by pervasive, long-term exhaustion, loss of function, and reduced tolerance to stimuli.  Our specialised neuroaffirmative support is tailored to help your child to explore their strengths, to find adaptive ways to get their needs met and nurture their emotional wellbeing to buffer against the possibility of burnout, or to recover from it. 

Training and Workshops

Our group models allow you to collaborate with other individuals and families to come to a clearer understanding of autism and the challenges it can bring, both for the individual and other family members struggling to understand and meet the Autistic young persons needs. These discovery sessions and workshops allow for more general information and guidance on support strategies for specific goals/domains.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

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It is important to us that all our services, particularly those with the neurodiverse children and young people we support, prioritise both their emotional and behavioural wellbeing. We are committed to creating a safe and supportive environment that values and respects their individual neurodivergent experiences and prioritises autonomy and assent in all therapy goals.  Our focus is always on strengths, abilities, and promoting a sense of empowerment. We believe that keeping our services proactive in nature, with an emphasis on skill development as a way to meet the needs of a child and young person allows them to maximise their potential and minimise the challenges they face.

All of our autism support services are underpinned by evidence-based practices from Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The principles of Behaviour Analysis give us a clear understanding of how we all learn and why we do the things that we do. In ABA therapy we harness the power of these natural principles of behaviour and learning to help us be more effective teachers. ACT is a psychotherapy that uses the same principles of learning to help a child or young person who is naturally overwhelmed by the challenges they face, and the emotions and thoughts that accompany those challenges, to gradually learn to respond to challenges in flexible, self-supportive ways that bring them closer to the life they want.

Find out more about ABA and ACT and how they shape the services we provide

Supporting a neurodiverse individual to achieve their personal values and goals requires partnership and commitment from all involved. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of active involvement in all of our support service models. Whether you join us as an autistic individual, or family member, we will look to you for input in developing meaningful goals that align with your, or your child's aspirations and priorities. We will encourage you to share your thoughts, concerns, and ideas throughout. We may ask you to attend meetings, provide updates, become involved in decision-making and/or provide opportunities for direct learning.

Being actively involved as a parent will have a significant impact on your child's journey. It allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your child's values and goals, their strengths, and skills, and empowers you as a partner in your child's growth. Your contributions are invaluable in creating a tailored plan that will work for your child and your family.

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