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Autism Assist

Our Background and Experience

This speech pathology and learning clinic has been operating for the last 30 years, providing services to children from birth to school entry and beyond. Each of our three speech pathologists has studied and had clinical practice in assessing and treating, on a one-on-one basis, pre-school as well as school aged children
diagnosed on the ASD spectrum.


All Speech Pathologists at this Clinic receive on-going professional development provided by Speech Pathology Australia,Learning Links and other organizations that offer further training in the assessment and treatment of communication difficulties in the ASD spectrum.

Therapists at this Practice have been involved with service delivery to clients under the care of Wesley Mission Disability services, giving the therapists opportunities to develop skills in the area of behaviour management strategies resulting from Ylana Bloom & Lee Hartnett’s “Let’s Talk Together” Programme and “Before Choice Making” compiled by Karen Bloomberg & Denise West.

Communication assessment tools include standardized tests and parent checklists, clinical observation, pre-school visits to observe the child and to consult staff. All staff is trained in the implementation of a picture exchange system, using visual aids to assist children in understanding the home and pre-school environments and in communicating their message, if speech is not available to them.

Staff is also familiar with implementing the “Early Play Programme” from Early Intervention Service at ASPECT. Parent training and family support are included in every treatment session, with on-going, follow-up support for the home and/or pre-school environment.

Capacity to deliver services

This Clinic operates 6 days per week, in Ashfield with physical access easily available from the street. It comprises three full-time speech pathologists and clerical support, to ensure each therapist’s time is spent in client contact,not on administrative tasks.

The DSS Consortium of AUTISM ASSIST would like to welcome parents to access the following additional services now being provided for their children on the Autism Spectrum.

For full, up-to-date listings of Consortium members:

Improve overall wellbeing for child on the Autism Spectrum: Our service provides direct assessment of the needs of the child and implements intervention plans in those areas, as well as providing strategies and support for parents, educational staff and care givers, thus improving the wellbeing of the children and their families.

Improve strategies and skills of parents to meet child’s needs: Our service offers full support to parents. Those parents will see demonstrated and have the opportunity to implement, with professional guidance and feedback, the strategies taught in their therapy sessions. This empowers parents so they feel they can better handle the day-to-day challenges of living with Autism.

Improve capacity of children to attend formal school & participate in every day life: Our program in its diversity and educational, home and parental support, improves the chances of children with Autism attending school and participating in everyday life, because targeted intervention from an early age helps enable these children to cope with their environment and to be understood by those in their immediate environment. When parents/care givers understand life from the child’s perspective, behaviours can be better managed and the child can operate in the world with less stress.

Many children do not respond well to office based therapy. Therefore, as part of our team and service, depending on the needs of the child, home programming may be more appropriate. In that case, follow-up home visits or social skills groups will be offered by Antonia Canaris.

Assessment of social, cognitive & adaptive functioning:

Social interaction and adaptive functioning can be affected by both verbal and non-verbal abilities. Regardless of the verbal skills of the child, on assessment their social skills can be measured. Formal testing, if suitable will be performed. If this is not possible, informal assessment, parent interview and clinical observation will provide a picture of the child’s parenting skills.

Cognitive functioning can be evaluated by referral to an appropriate psychologist in the area. We have a number of such specialists who are happy to take referrals in this area.

Value, quality & quantity of service:

By providing follow-up support at home or in the child’s educational setting, by Mrs Canaris, our service aims to reduce the relatively more expensive cost to parents of only seeing the speech pathologist or occupational therapy professional. While the speech pathologist and/or occupational therapist will oversee the programme, treatment costs are reduced to allow longer-term intervention and support to take place.

Delivery of services in a home environment is a more natural situation that facilitates the generalization of desired language and behavioural learning. Children are more relaxed and are able to see the link between improved expression and desired goals. Parents/carers can also appreciate the ease of incorporating therapy goals within normal daily interactions.

Antonia Canaris also provides a service to train teachers and early childhood professionals so that they are more able to implement the recommendations of the speech and occupational therapists. She also provides in-services to teachers, parents and early childhood professionals on the nature of autism and on generally useful behavioural strategies. Follow up visits can be made to provide support and to ensure successful inclusion. Timely intervention in this low cost model should reduce recourse to more expensive psychological and other interventions.

This model allows for the established best practice service delivery which includes embedded intervention and the active participation of parents/ caregivers, as well as individualized planning, according to the priorities and concerns of the particular families. It empowers families to gain greater confidence and knowledge and improves their sense of agency.

Skills & qualifications of staff – number of specialists & qualifications:

All Speech Pathologists are fully qualified and members of Speech Pathology Australia. Barbara Braithwaite is the Principal Speech Pathologist with 30 years experience in working with children. While not able to see very child at the Practice, she oversees all work done with every the Practice sees.

Each staff member…

  • Has had clinical experience in the assessment and treatment of Autism, as well as training in their courses and with post graduate studies.
  • Are trained in working with ASD, have knowledge & skills for their special needs.
  • Has been approved to deliver services by their relevant associations: As well, all speech pathologists and our occupational therapist are Medicare registered, to allow clients to claim visits through the Medicare Enhanced Primary Care Programme.

Antonia Canaris, BA

Dip Ed Grad Cert Prof Studies (Autism) Med (literacy and numeracy) Spalding, Visualizing & Verbalizing, Makaton (Basic) Training in running social skills groups (Aspect)

Capacity to provide training & support and professional supervision:

Barbara Braithwaite is an experienced clinical educator for Sydney University, having supervised students over the last several years of clinical practice.

Strategies employed & outcomes achieved:

Each therapist endeavours to come from a place of non-judgement and understanding from both her own professional standpoint and from the parents’ perspective in understanding the challenges they face on a day to day basis. With an understanding of cultural bias, each therapist seeks to gently guide an understanding of this complex disorder through consultation, if necessary with ASPECT and translated materials for parents to read or refer to.

Often when a client can converse and have answered questions in their own language, understanding this complex issue can be easier and less stressful. If we cannot provide support in a client’s first language, we will access an interpreter service and ensure we discuss Autism with the interpreter prior to the client’s appointment, to better gauge the cultural background to disability and Autism.

This Practice has been operating in the Ashfield area for the last 30 years and as such, has developed relationships with community based allied health service professionals, not just at our local centre at Croydon Health Centre, but from the greater west as far as Fairfield, Westmead Hospital and towards the city at Forest Lodge.

Call our office now on (02) 9797 1880 to check your eligibility for this funding and to access these services for your child.

AUTISM ASSIST PROVIDERS for DSS funding for Helping Children with Autism and Better Start Programmes

Melanie Welch and Jessica Sheehan – Speech Pathologists

Braithwaite Speech and Learning Clinic
2 Lapish Ave, Ashfield 2131


Antonia Canaris – Educationalist

Sydney Learning Difficulties
378 Forest Rd Bexley 2207

Tel:0414 760 663

Cara Adler – Occupational Therapist

Children’s Occupational Therapy
Westfield Eastgardens 152 Bunnerong Rd
Eastgardens 2036

Tel:8347 0622/0405 135 123

Dorothy Debono Borg – Speech Pathologist

194 Brenan St
Smithfield 2164

Tel:9757 4945/0431 634 502

Edwina Scerri – Psychologist

Kaleidoscope Network
216 Enmore Rd
Enmore 2042

Tel:0411 848 137

Gudula Dornseifer – Occupational Therapist OT

Learning Sensations
762 Darling St
Rozelle 2039

Tel:9290 3621

Hibba M Nagrial, Speech Pathology

Hibba Nagrial Speech Pathology
35 The Carriageway Glenmore Park

Tel:27450422 84 3396

Jessica Waters, Speech Pathologist

Jessica Waters Speech Pathology
Synergy Business Centre Unit 7,
Level 1, 11 Lord St Botany 2190
19 Goorma Dr Cambewarra 2540


Jemimah Bray, Speech Pathologist

4/1008 Old Princes Hwy
Engadine 2233

Tel:9548 3305

Janina Szyndler, Psychologist

Apex Psychology P/L
74 Burwood Road
Burwood 2134

Tel:9715 5534

Katherine Lawrence, Speech Pathologist

Carlingford Speech and Learning Centre
16 Elbon Ave
Epping 2121

Tel:9876 4962

Karen Morgan, Speech Pathologist

Glenbrook Speech Pathology
12B Ross St
Glenbrook 2773

Tel:4739 5176

Natalie Diwakar, Speech Pathologist

Liverpool Speech Pathology
3 Flowerdale Rd
Liverpool 2170

Tel:9600 8242

Jacqueline Bracey and Katie Woolcott, Occupational Therapists

Mandorla Creative Therapy
1/17 Ramsay Rd
Five Dock 2046

Tel:9712 0405

Rebecca McKeon, Speech Pathologist

4/1008 Old Princes Highway,
Engadine 2233

Tel:9548 3305 04 07 907 226

Sarah Turner, Speech Pathologist

62 Lee Rd
Winmallee 2777

Tel:0420 823767

Michelle Oakes, Speech Pathologist

65/15-17 Terminus St
Castle Hil 2154


Chantelle Burrell, Speech Pathologist

Children’s Chatter Speech Pathology Services
2 Plateau Rd,
Springwood 2777

Tel:4751 2540