Autism Therapist in Auckland

Natasha Popova

Postgraduate Autism (Children) Specialist (with Merit)

Qualified by the Department of Disability Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN), School of Education, University of Birmingham, a leading provider of degree-level education in autistic spectrum disorders in the UK.

Just like a heartbeat, laughter has a distinct rhythm to it. Sharing a rhythm is socially bonding. Probably the most contagious of all emotional experiences, laughter connects us quickly and easily with the social life around us. Laughter is also a communication system. When we laugh, our mind and body collaborate naturally to convey a state of relaxed happiness in the company of others. It is common to hear children laughing as they play because playing is always spontaneous and fun, it opens the imagination and invigorates the soul. Autistic children do not choose to stay away from the play with other children; it is, however, their life’s experiences that tell them to feel uncomfortable with others and become socially withdrawn. The underlying neuroscience of the contra-intuitive way of weaving laughter into communication with autistic children tells us that giving children a chance to bond through laughter, to have fun through joint play will not only support them in feeling happier in the moment- their brains will inevitably start working on looking for the new opportunities to feel this way in the future.

My work on teaching socially challenged children to bond, laugh and play started in the UK where I was helping children connect with the childhood world around them and enjoy easier access to their own playful and spontaneous nature. I worked privately with my clients using a child-centred approach to enhance their social wellness. Through the multiple treatment strategies, I helped my students progress on the social capability learning continuum. Children were learning to understand themselves and others, recognise and regulate emotions, express empathy and establish positive relationships, work effectively in teams and handle challenging situations more constructively. The approach helped to improve their wellbeing and social competence. As we decided to move to New Zealand, Autism Auckland Consultancy was born to provide autism therapy in Auckland, North Shore. It aims to develop primary school age, verbal and able autistic children through the learning programmes tailor-made to meet their individual needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. There is growing evidence that treatment programmes that are beneficial for one may be harmful and disturbing for another.

I am passionate about supporting children with the social learning challenges. As the UK qualified autism therapist in Auckland with over 11 years of supporting neurodiversity, I have created my sessions using modern ways that work with the nature of autism- not against it- to fine-tune the young social minds. Through inviting (not forcing), supporting (not restraining) and sharing good times (not compliance) children will be progressing from the self-conscious thinking to group thinking, engaging in the social experiences more effectively. The improved faculty of social attention, social interpretation, social problem solving and adjusted emotional expression will allow them to benefit from the more successful social and emotional responses.

No two autistic children have the same sensory perception profiles. Sensory processing issues affect the development of the child’s abilities, thinking styles and communication. Sensory systems assessment will allow to clarify his or her sensory experiences while offering essential support will let the child respond to social learning opportunities better. It is also helpful to look into the child’s current social and emotional difficulties to choose the most efficient ways to improve his or her social-emotional intelligence and facilitate academic development.

To provide the most up-to-date learning programmes to autistic children, I have recently completed a range of specialist courses in my areas of interest including:

• Accreditation to use Structured Teaching TEACCH® method. The University of North Carolina TEACCH® autism programme is created to improve the quality of life for the people with autism across the lifespan, Hermitage, UK;

• Accreditation to apply ILAUGH Model, Social Thinking® assessment and core treatment strategies, London, UK;

• Accreditation to implement Social Thinking® and social communication concepts, Buckinghamshire, UK;

• Accreditation to use Derbyshire Language Scheme (DLS), assess and develop communication skills, design communication activities to practice specific skills both in the natural context and in structured sessions, Bulkington, UK;

• Accreditation to use Bricks for Autism LEGO™-based Therapy, endorsed by Cambridge University Autism Research Centre, UK;

• Accreditation to apply the SCERTS® model, Buckingham, UK;

• Certificate on the practical implementation of the SCERTS® model, Northamptonshire, UK;

• Attention Autism Course, introducing the Attention Autism methodology and practice that underpins the intervention, demonstrating the practical techniques and covering a range of other strategies for other areas such as problem-solving and personalising interventions. Stage 1 and Stage 2, Surrey, UK;

• Advanced Attention Autism Course, exploring how communication and social interaction are developed through Attention Autism methodology and practice, Stage 3 and Stage 4, Surrey, UK;

• Course on the practical implementation of the Sensory Stories, Taunton, UK.

  • Emily Rubin

    MS, CCC-SLP, co-founder of the SCERTS framework

  • Gina Davis

    Dip RCSLT, ACE, founder of Attention Autism method

  • Michelle G. Winner

    MA, CCC-SLP, founder of Social Thinking

Emily Rubin