exploring feelings and friendship (5-7 years)

Young children with autism have particular difficulty in understanding and controlling their emotions, especially when those emotions are negative. This fun, practical, and engaging program provides a set of simple strategies to help children with high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome who suffer from mood difficulties to decrease negative feelings and increase positive feelings in daily life.
Using a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach, The Stress and Anger Management Program (STAMP) is designed specifically for young children in their pre-school and early school years. This 9-session group program formulated by Tony Attwood, focuses on methods, games and activities that are developmentally appropriate. Treatment components include affective education, cognitive restructuring, social and group stories, and the emotional toolbox. A parental component is also included to support practice at home and promote generalization outside of the classroom or therapy setting.
The group therapy can be tailored for individual therapy when needed.


Secret Agents Society Social SkillsTraining program (8-12 years)

Building the social skills of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) requires a program that meets highly-specialised needs. Teaching skills such as recognising emotions in oneself and others, expressing emotions in appropriate ways and how to get along with others is essential. Social skills programs used for the general population generally don’t work for children with ASDs.

The Secret Agent Society is an innovative, evidence-based intervention that uses games and activities to improve the emotional understanding and social skills of 8-12 year olds with high-functioning ASDs.

This flexible system helps practitioners, parents and teachers address the social difficulties of children with ASDs by teaching children:

How the Secret Agent Society is different – and FUN!

The Secret Agent Society creates a fun, engaging and non-threatening learning environment for children with ASDs.

The program features a computer game with animated characters and interactive missions that teach children how to recognise and control their emotions and cope with challenging situations. The game also encourages self-paced learning, provides immediate feedback and minimises the need for real world social interactions while children learn new skills – a source of anxiety for many with ASDs. The game is complemented by a range of other strategic play activities. These include Secret Agent card games, ball games, role plays, a walkie-talkie game, foam darts game and board games. Visual supports include colourful posters, stickers and portable “code” cards that help children learn and apply their new skills in everyday sitautions.

The Evidence

A randomised-contorlled trial showed significant improvements in the social skills of children participting in the Secret Agent Society intervention. Participants showed greater improvements in social skills and emotional control, both at home and at school. In fact, the social skills of 76% of child participants improved to within the range of typically developing children. Improvements in social functioning were also maintained five months after the program ended.

How it works

The Secret Agent Society has fewer sessions than many other social skills programs, making it practical, cost effective and reducing the risk of program drop-out. Its various components make it easy for practitioners, parents and teachers to encourage and support the child. Features include: Nine weekly group therapy sessions to teach children how to apply computer game content to everyday contexts. Three month and six month follow-up sessions to encourage skill maintenance. Sessions with parents to show how to support children in using their social skills. Weekly tip sheets for teachers to encourage children’s skills in the classroom and playground.

Benefits of the program

Improved social skills are likely to: Help build self-esteem in children with ASDs. Improve children’s relationships with parents, siblings, peers and teachers. Improve children’s academic performance. Reduce bullying and victimisation. Offset the development of depression in later years. Enhance the capacity of children to form friendships now and later in life.

To ensure children obtan the full benefits of the program they will need to attend all sessions.

Time: Thursday afternoons or Saturdays usually beginning the week prior to school term commencement.

Cost: $1600 includes the SAS family kit, initial assessment and 12 child and parent sessions (rebates or early intervention funding may be utilised).

Where: Autism West, Nedlands

How: To register your interest please complete a registration form and return to Aspire Family Psychology by email or post. This program fills quickly, if you miss out on a place you will be considered first in the following term.

To find out more about the SAS program you can visit the official SAS website or you can read Tony Attwood's recommendation of the program.


Cool Kids - ASD Adaptaion (7-11 years)

Cool Kids is a structured, skills-based program that teaches children (including teenagers) and their parents how to better manage the child’s anxiety. It involves the participation of both children and their parents, and focuses on teaching clear and practical skills. The program has undergone continual scientific evaluation and development to include the latest understanding of anxiety and its treatment. Current results indicate that most young people who complete the programs show significant improvement. Following treatment, there are marked increases in school attendance, academic achievement, confidence, number of friends and involvement in extra-curricular activities and decreases in worry, shyness, fear and family distress.
Topics covered in the program include:

The Cool Kids program was formulated by the Centre of Emotional Health (Macquarie University, Sydney). The program has been translated into a number of languages and it is currently used by therapists in many countries. Thousands of children around the world have benefitted by participating in Cool Kids.