Just spent time today talking with a family about their child’s communication under the frame of social development. Seems strange for many people that OT’s talk about communication and for specialised input we would always refer on to a speech pathologist for advice, however communication is part of a child’s function and occupation so obviously we would chat about this as well. During a session we were celebrating how much a child was spontaneously imitating, orienting frequently to adults, anticipating what was going to happen, sharing attention between objects and people and joining in cooperative actions. There were so many social foundation skills displayed we have stopped counting the frequency because we just can’t keep up. How wonderful to see these social scaffolds improving a child’s attention and desire to learn through the frame of another person. What was interesting was when I probed further, one of the parents felt the child’s communication hadn’t come on very much. As we chatted further it became more apparent that the family felt the child’s language hadn’t come on rather than the overall communication. I phrased it like this and credit needs to be given to Louise Ulliana who’s knowledge, collaboration and Functional Assessment of Expressive Skills has shaped my view greatly. Initially when the family’s child came he only communicated to get what he wanted. It was all requesting or leading behaviours and there wasn’t any sharing of experiences. The child’s expressive communication profile would have looked similar to the one below.


The child was building one or two communication towers and they were all about getting things he wanted or indicating he didn’t want something. Now we could have focussed on the the child developing their requesting of needs and wants and kept building a requesting skyscraper, but instead we focussed on social connectedness, the social foundation skills, interaction and play. After a couple of months his communication profile would probably look similiar to the following profile. Instead of a skyscraper we are starting to get more of a town.


What the newer profile means is:

  1. The child has lots more opportunities across the day to practice language and expression as she is interacting more due to the social relating strengthening.
  2. His language profile is not just about getting what he wants or reciting videos but includes lots of sharing language like “train on the swing”. This language is about commenting and connecting rather than illiciting a response from another person.
  3. There is a wider base on which to build language so language is now the “icing on the communication cake”.
  4. We have lots more opportunities for functional interaction and play skills.

So in essence although the child is possibly not saying any more words that he did, he is now saying words with communicative intent and to share experiences in a social way. He is moving from a non-communicative talker to a person who talks to communicate. Remember social connection is the cake, you need the cake first then the language icing on top.

Aaron Jackson

BAppSc (OT); MHlthSc (OT)

Occupational Therapist

Be sure to pop over to our facebook page for current information about our service. Our website gets updated intermittently but the facebook page gets more regular updates www.facebook.com/childsenseOT/ . Also we look forward to seeing those families in the holidays for their intesive programmes and lots of fun!!!!

23.01.2017 Our group programmes for term 1 start the week of the 6th February 2017. We already have a few school age social groups booked out but there is still a couple of spaces available in our school reaidness group on a Monday at 11:15. Please contact the office if you are interested in coming to the school readiness group. Information can be found on the facebook page or we will place a flyer in the downloads section.

We have uploaded a little summary of why dancing can be useful for development in children. Once again this list is not exhaustive but provides some evidence for why we might use dancing to foster interaction, coordination and regulation. See the downloads page for more details.

Had another great day in our social group yesterday. We have been developing the abilities of the children to generate play ideas and work collaboratively with their play partners. It’s been great to watch their skills in imaginative role plays develop across the term.

Some of the key principles we have used are:

We used the language of “I have an idea” and “everyone needs a job” in play scenarios.
Role plays were built into sensorimotor play as it is motivating for children and aids in regulation
When children are moving through space in goal directed imaginary play naturally occurring problems more frequently arise aiding in collaboration
We based early role plays on stories so children could understand the goal of the play
Initially we used visuals to scaffold for what and where jobs would occur
We used video review so children could name discuss their roles (jobs) in play situations


What we saw was:

Children spontaneously collaborating and negotiating roles in play situations
Children displaying object substitutions (i.e. imagining a swing is a boat)
Children solving problems that occured together (i.e. how can we move these balls on a scooteboard?)
Children enjoying being different roles in play
People advocating for themselves when there was a change in roles
FUN FUN FUN and laughter
Children spontaneously adding ideas into the play and creating new scenarios
We had to discard planned activities as the children were having so much fun playing together


Hi Everyone. Bookings are open for the holidays groups for the seond week of the school holidays (October 3rd-7th 2016). We are running them in the afternoons. Please book in quickly if you want to secure a spot. You can download a flyer from the downloads page http://www.childsense.com.au/information/downloads/category/3-pdf.html .


Hi all. We just uploaded a new little summary on Pokemon Go and children with an ASD. Go to our downloads page to get a copy. We will keep adding to this downloads page so check in regularly.

We welcome Amanda Robb to our team at Child Sense. Amanda has an extensive background in working with trauma counselling and her expertise primarily consists of supporting individuals and families dealing with anxiety, depression, grief, mental health issues, transitional life stages, and clients wishing to strengthen their relationship and communication skills. Alongside her counselling work with Child Sense Occupational Therapy and Women’s Health Centres, Amanda is a lecturer at The University of Sydney and The Australian College of Applied Psychology where she teaches counselling students.

Just a reminder that the Regulation and Social Groups restart on July 25th at the new location at 6 Macquarie Street. We still have some spaces in the 3-4 year old groups. Our school readiness groups are at capacity but with some people waiting for these groups we could offer another group if enough interest is registered. The younger groups focuss on early social and regulation skills while the older groups will focus more on cooperative activities, playground/classroom social skills and shared/different ideas. Contact the clinic for more information.

Had a great week this week running a social group for year 1 and 2 children focussing on putting happy and spikey thoughts in your friends mind. So great to see the children spontaneously giving compliments, showing non-verbal methods of making their friends happy (high fives, fist pumps, back pats), using prosocial cooperative actions and checking to see if their friend was ok. A really great week and the children had a blast!

In one of our social and regulation groups last term we had a party practice. Families raised in the parent training time that they often still have many difficulties with parties. This is an often cited social situation which can raise problems for some children with social and regulation difficulties. It rates right up there with playgrounds and shopping centres for overstimulating situations. A quick google search will provide many ideas for how to run a party for children with a social difficulty. Ideas are well documented such as:

  • Choosing a topic of interest for your child
  • Choosing a very familiar location or routine that your child enjoys
  • Using visual schedules and social stories to provide forewarning and structure
  • Using role plays of different activities
  • Keeping the event short
  • Maybe not having the giving of birthday presents but a present table or even a donation to a charity to avoid the anxiety over presents
  • Having smaller numbers of children which may allow for a more structured activity such as rock climbing
  • Ensuring your child’s sensory needs are met within activities

It was interesting that families raised that being invited to other people’s parties was much harder and was when their children often became overstimulated and dysregulated. These situations are harder as you can’t control what happens or the activities that are present. We discussed the following ideas for visiting someone else’s party with the main theme being that preparation again is key:

  • It is easier if you know the family well who’s party you are going to. Closer friends will be probably happier to have a quiet space set aside, let you know what activities will be done, allow you to arrive early to set up rather than arriving when heaps of kids are there and be tolerant of you leaving early if needed.
  • Ensure your child wants to go to the party. Is it your view or your child's view that the party is important? Likewise don't let your own anxieties stop your child accessing something they would like to attend.
  • Practicing elements of a party with family and friends. Allocate a visual for each activity (e.g. opening presents, pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey, eating treats, free play, birthday cake, singing happy birthday etc). Instead of making an ordered schedule you could create a mind map style sheet which you can just cross off/take off pictures of activities as they are completed. You could take along a couple of the activities in your car if your child is more regulated by doing everything on a chart. It is also wise to have a couple of blank spaces to draw in activities that weren’t planned (e.g. surprise activities) and try to keep it foldable for portability.

 mind map 2

  • Social stories and video modelling is still helpful
  • Take a ‘safety bag.’ A safety bag is just full of things that can help your child regulate or get you and your child out of a tricky situation. It should be full of highly favoured and regulating activities you can go to if necessary.
  • If your child is able to understand/has a language to discuss their own regulation difficulties then you can talk to them about a space you will allocate (e.g. the car) to go if they are finding it too tricky/stressful. Children can also use their practiced self-regulation techniques as well.

Hope these tips are useful

Here is a nice look at the Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis from Rebecca Burgess- https://themighty.com/2016/05/rebecca-burgess-comic-redesigns-the-autism-spectrum/ . Every child is different and this helps people see a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder as not being just like every other child with an ASD but as an individual who needs to be looked at with fresh eyes every time.

From the 4th July 2016 we will be located at 6 Macquarie Street Annandale 2038. The new location is a cottage and will have multiple rooms with suspension apparatus, natural light and a backyard!!! We are looking forward to the feel of this new location and hope you all love it as much as we do. Stay tuned for more infomation or chat to your therapist.

We use many programmes in our service to work on children's emotions and emotional regulation. Often the basis of good regulation lay in what Dr Stuart Shanker describes as biological regulation. This is your underlying physiological arousal that affects how you respond to your environmental challenges (but this is for another post). We just wanted to share a new website from Dr Ekman (remember that show 'Lie to Me'. It was based on his work) which outlines some nice reflections on emotions for parents. This allows parents to reflect themsleves on the factors and ranges of emotions that their child has to deal with. It makes a nice discussion point. Check it out at http://atlasofemotions.com/.


We often recommend families review the Zero to Three website for great information but one of their more useful documents is on screen time. This area can be so polarising for people and obviously as a profession that values children using their bodies we will always err on the side of getting out and challenging yourself physically. This link has some nice summary documents for families and they regularly update documents so check it out https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/series/screen-sense-setting-the-record-straight.

Here is an interesting study into the benefits of handwriting over typing when copying down information in university students. The additional processing time in writing appears to assist more in digesting and integrating the content of the information that is given whereas laptops appear to have a benefit in getting content down.  http://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/474525392/attention-students-put-your-laptops-away 

Welcome to our updated website. We are currently going through some changes on the website and the gaps and issues will be corrected in the coming days. We thankyou for your patience while this occurs. Keep checking in for updates about the service. 

Our term 2 Regulation and Social Interaction Groups start on Monday 9th May for 8 weeks. We continue to have Vani Gupta (speech pathologist) from Therapies Summer Hill assisting us with our early years programme. If you would like further information about these groups then please contact us either at the office or online and someone will assist you.