Online Wellbeing Support Group for Autistic Girls

The Autistic Girls’ support group will run for 10-weeks and have two separate groups running per week on Tuesdays (13-15 years) and Thursdays (15-18 years) from 5pm-6pm. The cost per session is $100 and will be eligible for a $20 Medicare rebate or can be covered through NDIS funding. We will also accept expression of interest from girls 11-12 years old and will form a group if enough participants. A minimum of 6 participants per group is needed to get it started. We are accepting expressions of interest and once we have enough participants in one group we will start this off. It is intended that these groups will run twice a year to offer to participants continuity of support and connections.

Practitioners delivering this support are fully registered psychologists, provisional psychologists or counsellors (Masters) with experience in working with autistic young people. This support group project is supervised by Dr Pascale Paradis, educational and developmental psychologist and board approved supervisor. Pascale has a number of years of experience working with this population and uses an neurodivergent affirmative framework and strengths based approach in her work and supervision.

Throughout the 10 weeks, members of the group will have a safe space to share their personal experiences in an understanding and comfortable environment. In addition, the sessions will focus on increasing resilience, self-esteem and belonging, tailored to the needs of autistic girls. It will also offer psychoeducation and support on wellbeing topics such as stress and anxiety, sleep, self-care, friendships, relationship with parents/family, conflict resolution. Girls will also be able to bring topics of interests from issues and challenges emerging in their lives. This will be facilitated by the psychologists supporting the group. Sessions will also include practising techniques to support wellbeing such as mindfulness, grounding, visualisation, gratitude, compliments, eliciting strengths and connections with others.

Outline of sessions will include meet and greet, getting to know each other, games to support connections, activities to learn more about self-care, stress and anxiety, conflict resolution, and top tips around techniques for mindfulness, gratitude.

All sessions will take place on zoom. A link will be shared before the start of the group. Consent for Telehealth will be required. Two practitioners will always be online with the group. If a young person becomes upset or withdrawn, the possibility of a breakout room to have some individualised time with one of the practitioners will be offered to the young person. Any disclosures of possible risk during a session will be followed up afterwards with the young person and their parent(s). It will then be reinforced that the young people should seek support from their current and regular therapist or a referral/signposting to additional support can be provided on an individual basis as well as a group basis.

The following books have guided the development of this support group:

Bradshaw, C. (2019). The resilience workbook for teens. New Harbinger Publications

Schab, L. (2013). The self-esteem workbook for teens. New Harbinger Publications

Gordon, T., & Borushok, J. (2019). Acceptance and Mindfulness Toolbox. PESI Publishing & Media

Seiler, L. (2008). Cool connections with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Encouraging self-esteem, resiclience and well-being in children and young people using CBT approaches. Jessica Kignsley publishers

Daniel, B., & Wassel, S. (2002). Adolescence. Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Rae, T., & Such, A. (2019). The ASD Girls’ wellbeing toolkit: an evidence-based programme promoting mental, physical & emotional health. Hinton House Publishing