January 1


Exercise and Autism Spectrum Disorder ASD in Canberra

By Erin Thorne

January 1, 2021

ASD, Autism, Canberra

Exercise and Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD:

What do I do with my clients in the gym?

Firstly, in our private Clinic in Canberra, we sit down and come up with a game plan and get to know each other. Then we exercise in a safe private 1 on 1 gym environment using a range of whole body strengthening exercises that are interactive and relative to everyday.

What age group do I see most commonly?

Between 10-18 as this is a crucial developmental age range where the main goal is to encourage independence and improve life skills while encouraging the transition to a long term healthy lifestyle.

Take home message:

The main goal of exercise in the clinic is to come in and have fun, get a bit stronger, a bit fitter and most importantly leave with a smile on your face!

If this sounds like you or your child click on the green banner below.

Your ASD Report for Exercise Physiology for your Child is Ready Now!

That's correct. Below is an ASD Report for Exercise Physiology for your CHILD that is 98% complete. Yes, we have done all the hard work for you. This Report has been used many times and has a 100% success rate. 

Click on the button below for more information..

What is ASD? 

ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder which usually becomes prevalent before the age of 3.

Common challenges associated with ASD:

Problems with social interaction, communication skills, motor coordination and functioning are all commonly seen. Research suggests that those with ASD have a higher likelihood of becoming obese and developing associated co-morbidities such as cardiovascular and metabolic conditions including diabetes and heart disease. These conditions can have a huge impact on overall quality of life and motivation.

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has been linked to reducing the likelihood of obesity, AND will also have positive impacts on motivation, socialisation, sleep quality, energy levels, cognitive function, behaviour and mood regulation.

Exercise is a safe and affordable way to improve quality of life and reduce the risk of developing harmful co-morbidities for those with ASD. Resistance training can also help to improve motor coordination and quality of movement that can transfer into everyday life activities. Our clinic in Canberra provides a safe one on one environment where your child can thrive.

Cardiovascular exercises are used to increase fitness, maintain heart health, and stimulate cognitive growth while also making you feel good post exercise!!

The Best Resources for Autism Spectrum Disorder Exercise In Canberra

Accelr8 Rehab

As mentioned above Accelr8 Rehab is the best place for you if you need to start exercising when you have Autism. Exercise Physiology prescription in a private environment to get you moving and mobile.

Marymead's Autism Centre

Marymead Autism Centre celebrates diversity, promotes awareness and inclusion, and supports people on the autism spectrum and their families.

Please visit the Marymead Autism Centre website for the latest information.

Autism - Community Services

What is Autism?

The Child Development Service is a Canberra based service that provides residents in the ACT with free Autism assessments for children aged 0-12. A referral from a Paediatrician or Psychiatrist is required.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterised by persistent deficits in social communication and interaction across multiple areas. Difficulties with restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour also impact everyday functioning (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-5)).

Some common signs of Autism may include:

  • Not responding to their name by 12 months of age
  • Not pointing to objects of interest by 14 months of age
  • Not playing pretend games (e.g. feeding a doll) by 18 months of age
  • Avoiding eye contact and wanting to be alone
  • Having trouble understanding the thoughts and feelings of others (and perhaps personal space)
  • Difficulties with social interactions
  • Uses few or no gestures (e.g. waving goodbye)
  • Repeating the same words or actions over and over
  • Becoming upset by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Hand flapping, rocking body or spinning in circles
  • Unusual reactions to the way that things sound, smell, taste, look or feel

Source - Centres for Disease Control and PreventionExternal Link

Autism consists of a diverse range of behaviours and can be very different between individuals, therefore people with Autism may have some or all of these difficulties.

How is Autism Assessed?

The Child Development Service follows best practice evidence based standards in conducting its assessments. Our multi-disciplinary team has additional training and experience in the field of Autism.

We use a selection of information gathering and assessment tools which may include the following:

  • Detailed developmental and family history
  • Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R)
  • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule – 2nd Edition (ADOS-2)
  • Information from school/childcare/playgroup/home environments
  • Review of paediatric/medical/academic records

Who is Eligible for Assessment?

Children referred before the age of 12 years who live in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and have a referral from their paediatrician or psychiatrist.

There is no fee for this assessment.

Autism Assessment Referral Process

Step 1

Discuss any concerns you may have about your child’s development with your child’s paediatrician or psychiatrist. If indicated your child’s paediatrician or psychiatrist may choose to refer to the Child Development Service for an Autism Assessment.

Referrals for Autism Assessment by these medical professionals can be directed to the Child Development Intake Service on phone 6207 8884, facsimile 6205 1266 or email [email protected].

Your paediatrician or psychiatrist can also provide you with information about private autism assessment if you wish to pursue this option.

Please note – If your child does not have a paediatrician they will need to be referred to one by a GP. Paediatricians are available through the private sector OR ACT Health Community Paediatricians. You can contact ACT Health Community Paediatricians through the Community Health Intake number on 6207 9977.

Step 2

The Child Development Service will write to you to confirm that we have received the referral, and to let you know about any additional information that may be required before an assessment can be arranged. This information forms a necessary part of the assessment process.

Additional information includes:

  • A Medical Assessment by your child’s referring paediatrician or psychiatrist

We will require a report that addresses your child’s current developmental concerns. This will be provided to the Child Development Service following their initial assessment.

  • A hearing assessment for children under 7 years of age.

Hearing assessments can be arrange through ACT Health Audiometrists via contacting Community Health Intake on ph:6207 9977.

Alternatively you can access a private audiologist or contact Australian Hearing.

  • A recent developmental assessment (less than 12 months old) or cognitive assessment (less than 2 years old)

How to access this assessment:

  • A private psychologist or your school counsellor or psychologist may conduct this assessment if your child is in an educational setting e.g. preschool or school
  • If your child is under 5 and is not in an education setting please notify the Child Development Service regarding the developmental/ cognitive assessment to discuss options.

Step 3

Once all of the required information is received, we will write to you to confirm that your child has been added to the Autism Assessment waiting list.

Step 4

We will call you by phone when an appointment becomes available to arrange the assessment appointments.

Please be aware that waiting periods will apply before your child is able to be offered an assessment with our team.

Useful Links

Concerned about possible Autism symptoms?

ASDetect is a free app that assists parents and caregivers to assess the social attention and communication behaviours of their children younger than 2½ years (between 11 and 30 months).

This video-led self-assessment app is based on comprehensive, rigorous, world-class research conducted at the Olga Tennison Autism Research CentreExternal Link.


The Marymead Autism CentreExternal Link is based in Canberra and provides a wide variety of services in additional to information including Early Days workshops, support and social groups as well as NDIS preplanning and coordination support. Please note that you or your child do not need to already have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis to access our services, we can help you with the process of getting an ASD diagnosis.

Positive Partnerships

An online resourceExternal Link developed to provide support for school-aged students with Autism. There is information for parents and carers as well as for teachers and schools with the goal to improve outcomes for school-aged students on the autism spectrum both at home and in school.

Autism CRC

single online gatewayExternal Link to Autism resources, tools and publications. The website contains up-to-date information from the early years through to adulthood and includes research papers and a wide range of resources for the Autism community, service providers, educators and clinicians.

More information about Autism Spectrum Disorder

Raising Children NetworkExternal Link is an Australian website with evidence based information on a range of ASD related topics.

Marymead Autism Centre - Canberra ACT

Search Providers

The Marymead Autism Centre has compiled this database of providers that might be useful for people on the spectrum. Please note that search, filter and sort functions work best on a desktop computer rather than tablets or smartphones. You can view a larger version too.

The list below is pre-filtered for the following popular services:

Also, see a list of online counselling services.

Aspect Australia | Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect)


As young people on the autism spectrum grow up, they want different things. Young people and their families can develop skills to find new ways to be part of your community.

Help for the teenage years

 Getting a diagnosis Going to school Positive Behaviour Support Positive Partnerships

Autism - Canberra Psychology Centre for Children and Families

Autism Assessment

Jo Richardson is a Clinical Psychologist with over 15 years of experience in assessing and diagnosing Autism and childhood developmental disorders. Jo is on the Australian Psychological Society’s Identified Practitioner list. This indicates that she has provided documented evidence that she has training and experience in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Jo works with a dedicated assessment team within CPCCF to provide assessments for children, adolescents and adults.

What is involved in an Autism assessment at CPCCF?
  • The Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) is a structured clinical interview conducted with the parent(s) of individuals who have been referred for the evaluation of possible Autism or ASD’s. It can also be used in Adult Autism assessments. This measure is recognised worldwide as the gold standard assessment measure for the parent component of the assessment.
  • The ADOS-2 is a semi-structured, standardised assessment of: Communication, Social interaction, Play and Restricted and repetitive behaviours. The assessment presents various activities that elicit behaviours directly related to a diagnosis of ASD. This measure is recognised worldwide as the gold standard assessment measure for the child component of the assessment. The ADOS is also designed to be used in Adult Autism assessments.
  • Our Autism assessments also include a cognitive/IQ assessment using the WPPSI-IV, WISC V or WAIS IV (the test used will vary depending on the age of the person being assessed).
  • We utilise best practice screening forms including:
    – Adaptive Behaviour Assessment System (ABAS)
    – Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS)
    *The structure of an Adult Autism assessment may vary and will be designed to suit the need of the individual during the initial consultation session.

Canberra autism hub to open next year will 'change lives ...

A new autism hub in Canberra which will provide early intervention programs for up to 40 children a year has the potential to change lives and help keep families together, a father with two autistic children believes.

John James Foundation chair Professor Paul Smith, Minister for Disability Suzanne Orr and AEIOU Foundation chair Susan Rix turn the first sod of the new AEIOU autism hub in Canberra on Wednesday. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

 John James Foundation chair Professor Paul Smith, Minister for Disability Suzanne Orr and AEIOU Foundation chair Susan Rix turn the first sod of the new AEIOU autism hub in Canberra on Wednesday. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

The $3.5 million purpose-built centre is being bankrolled by the not-for-profit John James Foundation, Canberra's largest medical charity, which uses funds from the $100 million sale of the Calvary John James Hospital and other assets in 2018 for philanthropic causes. The lease on the land for the centre in Garran was gifted by the ACT Government.

The autism hub will be owned and operated privately by the AEIOU Foundation. Construction will start this week, with the centre due to be open by early 2021.


The centre will cater for autistic children aged between two and six years who will be supported by a specialist team comprised of speech pathologists, occupational therapists, behavioural therapists and early childhood educators, all located in the one location.

John James Foundation chief executive officer Joe Roff said talks started with the AEIOU Foundation two years ago to bring its services to Canberra.

"Canberra families have previously relocated to Queensland to access these services," he said.

"Families will now be able to stay close to family and friends, with the autism-specific support the need."

Isabella Plains dad Brian Meilak spent a year in Brisbane with his son Zachary, who has autism, using the AEIOU Foundation services there. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

 Isabella Plains dad Brian Meilak spent a year in Brisbane with his son Zachary, who has autism, using the AEIOU Foundation services there. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Isabella Plains couple Brian and Katy Meilak were one of those families who went to Queensland to seek out the AEIOU services for their son Zachary, who has autism.

Mr Meilak lived in Brisbane with Zachary for an year in 2015, while Mrs Meilak stayed in Canberra with their daughter Lily, a high-functioning autistic child.

The year of separation was difficult but "100 per cent worth it", Mr Meilak said. His son was exposed to all kinds of support, to the extent Zachary, now 10, attends Bonython Primary, in the learning support unit, able to communicate better and be more independent.

"I think if he hadn't done the program, he would not have developed as far as he has and the stress in the family would have been immense. A lot of couples with children on the spectrum separate because there is so much stress and tension," he said.

"The centre is not a cure. But it does help children manage their challenges. Zachary will always have challenges, but today, he's a totally different child.

An artist's impression of the autism hub in Garran. Picture: Supplied

 An artist's impression of the autism hub in Garran. Picture: Supplied

"AEIOU works with the child and the family and it really does help keep families together."

Zachary was diagnosed with autism when he was four. Mr Meilak said the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the ACT in 2014 saw many services in Canberra for autistic children close, leading the family to have to try AEIOU in Brisbane.

"It was hard having our family separated in two but it was something we had to do," Mr Meilak said.

AEIOU chief executive officer Alan Smith said the children would attend the centre five days a week in an environment similar to a childcare centre or kindergarten, learning the skills that would lead to school.

"We start with the very basic rules around toileting and communication and behaviours and then move to the more academic skills," he said.

Mr Smith said AEIOU was an approved NDIS provider. Fees were usually covered by an NDIS package but because the childcare subsidy applied, each family would have to pay some amount, based on Federal Government outlines.

Most children stayed in the program for two years. Children were accepted on a "first in, first served" basis with others put on a waiting list.

But Mr Smith said the waiting list was then subject to whose need was deemed the greatest and which child was the best fit for the centre.

Project Coordination will design and construct the new facility on the corner of Curlewis Crescent and Rusden Street in Garran.

Mr Roff said the $3.5 million would cover the "bare bones" of the new centre. The John James Foundation would be looking to the "goodwill of the community" and its suppliers to ensure the centre had everything covered, including landscaping and playground equipment, he said.

Autism Assessments Canberra | Capital Psychology Clinic ...

Autism Assessments Canberra


An assessment for Autism or Asperger’s is a comprehensive process, consisting of three sessions and the collection of information from parents, teachers, carers and other primary figures in the child’s life. It is important to understand that in 2013 the new diagnostic manual used for clinical diagnosis combined the diagnosis of Autism and Asperger’s into one diagnostic name: “Autistic Disorder”. Therefore, an Autism assessment now means that both of these presentations are investigated.

An Autism assessment consists of an initial session with the parents/caregivers only, so a comprehensive history can be discussed without the child being present. This is the most respectful way to openly discuss all background information and related concerns before a child attends for the assessment. Any previous reports and medical information should be provided at this session so that a clear decision can be made, allowing for any other alternative assessment requirements to be considered in the investigation.

The second session is a longer assessment session for your child to complete an array of standardised diagnostic measures that carefully evaluate and investigate their behaviour to determine if they have Autism or Asperger’s. This session consists of many different activities appropriate to their age level, current speech development, and behavioural abilities. The length of the session will be dependent on their age and ability to complete tasks. Breaks will be taken when needed.

The third session is an additional assessment session with your child, again consisting of standardised assessment tasks, to complete the comprehensive assessment of their functioning. Feedback will be provided during this session. Following collection of questionnaires provided to the parents and school, a comprehensive report is provided, with full description, discussion and recommendations for your child’s, and your family’s needs.

This assessment and report is accepted by all state, Catholic and private schools for any funding requirements due to the strict standardised measures used during the testing. Furthermore, this report is accepted by the NDIS, Centrelink and other government agencies for funding applications due to the strict standardised measures used during assessment. Capital Psychology Clinic only uses the gold standard, best practice up to date analysis for all of their assessments. Annual training and review of the procedures and psychologists is an ongoing focus in our clinic to ensure you are receiving the most appropriate and evidence-based service.

Capital Psychology Clinic pride themselves on fast, professional turnaround times for all reports NO LONGER than 3 weeks.

Review Autism Assessments

At times, you may be asked to have a reviewed/updated Autism assessment for your child if they were diagnosed many years ago or under the old diagnostic manual, DSM IV. This can often be requested from government departments or schools so a new funding package can be considered for your child. If this is required, then please let our friendly reception staff know how old your child is and how long ago their original diagnosis was made and they can inform you of the re-assessment process required, as it may be shorter than the above full assessment.

AEIOU Foundation Canberra Region - autism early ...

Canberra Region - coming soon


AEIOU Foundation is thrilled to establish a service in Canberra for families across the greater Canberra region. This state-of-the-art centre will support around 40 children each year, and will also have capacity for research and training. The Canberra region centre will be located in Garran, ACT. 

Children are supported to achieve their individual development goals in small group settings, by a specialist team comprised of Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Behavioural Therapists and Early Childhood Educators. We'd love to hear from people interested in joining the team – if you're a Canberra local and have qualifications in these areas, please get in touch.

We are taking interest in enrolments now, for children who are aged between 2 and 6 years of age. Construction is underway, with an expected opening date of mid-2021.

The centre is made possible due to the partnership and support of the John James Foundation, who are not only funding the construction of the facility but also developing, project managing and retaining the building. This service will form part of the broader John James Village precinct, and will facilitate the provision of specialist education and development for young children and their families. The AEIOU centre in Canberra consolidates the John James Foundation's commitment to strengthening health outcomes in the community. 

The facility is designed to include sustainable building elements, and will include building elements such as a 33KwH solar energy system with battery storage to generate green energy and to provide AEIOU with a passive income from distributing surplus energy production back to the main energy grid supply. 

CLICK HERE to register your interest in enrolment. Email [email protected] to express your interest in working with us in Canberra. To find out more about either, call 1300 273 435.

Canberra Autism Info - Home | Facebook

Sister page to Canberra Disability Info (https://www.facebook.com/CanberraACTDisabilityInfo) this page has a focus on Autism information.

Autism Spectrum Australia ACT | Live Healthy Canberra

Organisation Description 

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) is a service provider working with people with autism and other disabilities nationwide to deliver person-centred solutions which are flexible, responsive and evidence-informed for people of all ages on the autism spectrum.

Service Description 

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) provide information, intervention and a range of services to meet the needs of people on the spectrum and their families. Their services include:

  • Aspect Assessments for autism across the lifespan
  • Autism-specific education
  • Social and community support
  • Respite and short-breaks, after school, weekend, evening and holiday programs and respite and short term accommodation for children, siblings, youth and adults
  • Youth Social Clubs
  • Social or interest-based groups
  • Autism related workshops for parents, carers, educators and health professionals
  • NDIS planning meetings
  • Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), a person-centred framework for providing support in situations where there is, or there is a risk of, challenging behaviour

Please visit the website or contact Aspect on 1800 277 328 and [email protected] for more information.

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