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Our Centre Team

 Abbey Forster – Speech and Language Pathologist

Through experience across a number of approaches to intervention in Autism, and academic experience including Autism specific post graduate studies, Abbey provides evidence based Speech Language Pathology assessment and therapy with a client and family centered focus. Always having worked in close partnership with parents, OT’s, psychologists, and other members of the child’s support network, Abbey has a strong emphasis on a team approach to intervention for individuals with Autism.

“I always saw myself in a career where I could help people achieve their potential. So after 6 months abroad volunteering at a school in Tanzania, I started university studying teaching. As I completed subjects in special education, linguistics, and neuroanatomy, a different career path appeared and my passion for Autism began. As soon as I found Speech Language Pathology, I changed my degree, and started work as a disability support worker. Over my 6 years as a disability support worker, I communicated with hundreds of people of all abilities. I learnt a lot about the industry, the joys, and the challenges that come with communication and disability. I found that my work, my studies, and my growing interest in Autism, gave me the opportunity to apply everything I was learning to my communication skills, and to learn from my clients how I could be a better communicator and advocate.”

“Communication is so much more than words. It involves speaking, hearing, listening, understanding, behaviour, social skills, reading, writing and using voice. I could go on. It’s a complex and fascinating thing that we humans do, that I am so passionate about. Communication difficulties can be a source of immense frustration, anger, embarrassment or grief as people try to communicate their needs, thoughts, opinions, and feelings. In Autism, communication needs and difficulties vary tremendously from person to person. Part of the reason that I am so passionate and interested in Autism, is that every person has their own varied strengths and challenges in their day to day life. Every time a client or their family provides me with their goals and aspirations, I get to use my skills to dive into their communication and find creative ways to help them use their strengths to communicate and achieve their goals. Nothing is more satisfying than that.”

Jacqui Rainey – Clinical Psychologist

Extensive experience working with children and young people with autism as well as their families, carers and teachers. Jacqui is well versed in all aspects of Psychology from Diagnosis to behavioural management – but its her passion that has brought her to this moment.

“Early at university, I had a lecture on autism and the triad of impairment (as it was known then) and I remember it striking a particular chord. The guest lecturer worked at Giant Steps School and there was a television show on the school a couple of days after the lecture, which I watched. I was so moved by the understanding, dedicated support and gentle guidance by the staff, particularly to a child with challenging behaviours. I began work soon after at Giant Steps, School for Children with Autism and learned from great therapists and this would be the basis of my work with children with autism”.

“At Giant Steps, I noticed the joy the children brought to the people around them, but also the strain on their families. Some research findings indicated that parents of children with autism have higher levels of stress and depression than parents of children with cancer. Parent support is something that is central to my therapy with the children. In my work at John Blythe Child Psychology, I often take time to support parents and also include them in therapy sessions to teach and model helpful strategies that they can use later at home or in the community”.

“Another factor that drives me in my work with children with autism was a visit I did many years ago to a day centre for adults with autism. I remember that during free time, when the adults were free to take part in the many accessible activities, they just sat there and didn’t initiate anything. It seemed to me that they had been taught to follow directions but had not learned to initiate activities. It was very sad to see that prompt dependence and when working with children and young people now, I consider how what I am teaching them will help their long term outcomes in living a happy and full life, not just their immediate behaviour goals””.




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