Cygnet Parent Autism Awareness Programme – July-August 2020

ASC- Useful Information

Week 6 - Supporting Behaviour

Question 1

We are on the waiting list for assessment but this seems to have been put on hold due to the pandemic. Is there a way to check what is happening and when the assessment will happen? Also what will happen if my child turns 16 during this time?

Answer 1

As far as we aware multi-disciplinary assessments (in Devon) have continued to proceed for the cases where face to face clinics have not been required and information could be gathered through telephone/ virtual interviews.  Families are currently being advised to contact Children and Family Health Devon through the SPA (Devon Single Point of Access) for further information.  They can be contacted on 0330 024 5321

Week 3 - Sensory

Question 1

My daughter has a mixture of the over sensitive and under-sensitive! And some family members say she is choosing how to behave. And do not understand when I explain, one person even said she is just naughty and rude!!

Are there any more short videos or short guide books I could use to show them what she goes through and why she gets overloaded? 

Answer 1

This is often a difficult situation, especially as a child may seem able to respond differently in different situations.

The Rosie King video ‘My Autism and Me’ (you will have watched this in week 1)  and Rory Hoy’s ‘Autism and Me’ are useful tools to show family members to help them better understand autism. Both Rosie and Rory have autism and their videos include how their autism presents as well as explain why/ how they may misunderstand things and so appear rude or naughty. They also both highlight differences in their sensory needs.  I often suggest watching both videos/ media clips as although they offer some similar insights they also show how different they are from each other. Rosie’s video also show

The Sensory Integration Education website does have useful information to explain sensory processing and the 7 main senses. Although this site explains sensory processing differences I should make it clear that while not every person with a sensory processing difference has autism every person with a diagnosis of autism will have sensory processing differences.

There are a number of useful videos towards the bottom of the webpage in this link. I often refer families to the A Child’s View of Sensory Processing video. His explanation using a tea cup to explain under and over sensitivity is very clear and simple.

Other useful links:


Question 2

 I have noticed that (my son) seems to struggle with loud noises, for example a radio being too loud, or the hoover.  However his reaction to this is to make a noise himself over the top often louder than the initial noise that’s causing him distress.  Also he can have the radio up very loud when he has a song he like on, or the TV on, but really struggles when it’s not something he wants.

Can you help to explain what is going on here? Should we assume loud noises are causing him discomfort?

Awnser 2

In the Cygnet course they mention over and under sensitivity to sensations with some people having a low threshold (hyper sensitive) for specific sensations and so will actively avoid these or a high threshold (hypo sensitive) for other sensations and will seek these out. While this is true as an overview, the sensory processing system is very complex and isn’t as clear cut as this.

For example some people may be sensitive to specific sounds rather than volume in general, from your description it is possible that your son has a sensory sensitivity to certain sounds. This may mean that he has a low threshold for certain sounds (hyper sensitive) and so becomes easily overwhelmed if these are present (access to noise cancelling ear defenders often help). It may not be that he is sensitive to all loud sounds, which could explain why he is able to have his preferred songs at a louder volume.

This area in sensory processing is called sensory modulation. The Sensory Integration website has more information on this:

You may find that your son has some sensory modulation difficulties and by making louder sounds himself he is able to ‘block’ out or dampen down the sounds that are causing him distress or it may be that he is focusing on his own noises and this is helping him to self-regulate.

It is important to remember that the senses do not work in isolation so although he may seem sensitive to sounds it may not just be down to this. His emotional and overall level of regulation may well have an effect on his ability to process sensory information and also then effect how he responds. E.g. if he is in a calm/ regulated state he may be able to accept the hoover being on or be able to leave the room calmly whereas on a day where he isn’t as regulated (maybe hasn’t slept well or is already frustrated) the hoover may be too much and he shouts/ makes noises etc.

Many of the children that I support find it difficult to self-regulate in busy environments and can be overwhelmed if there is too much to process at any one time.

‘A Child’s View of Sensory Processing’ also offers some insight into this:

Some children with Autism and specifically sensory processing differences respond well to the use of visual timetables, visual cues (to make the day predictable and reduce anxiety) and socials stories to help them understand what they can do when feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Although not specifically about sensory needs you may find the resources and information produced by C and I team useful to review as they cover ways to reduce anxiety, introduce visual cues as well as methods to support co-regulation of emotions and some sensory regulation:

 Other useful links:

Autism Overview

Question 1

I suspect my Daughter may have ADHD alongside her Autism because she's showing traits of it, where would I need to go or who would I need to contact to get an assessment especially since Covid has pretty much shut down all medical centres?

Answer 1

Although CV19 restrictions have meant that many face to face appointments and assessments are not currently taking place most of the assessment and support service are still available for telephone or email consultations.

In regard to further assessment here are a number of ways that you could move forward.

You could:

  • raise you concerns with either your child’s paediatrician (if still being seen) or GP requesting further assessment
  • contact the Childrens and Family Health Devon Service
  • or if they are over 18 seek advice from the Devon Partnership Trust.

Further details can be found on the Devon Local Offer webpage in the Autistic Spectrum Condition Diagnosis section

Or you could contact and seek advice from the Childrens and Family Health Devon directly on

Children and Family Health Devon, Single Point of Access Team
1a capital Court,
Bittern Road,
Sowton Industrial Estate
t: 0330 0245 321

Useful Links:


Question 2

The session gave an example with a list of attributes of what a person with Autism might be able to do; hacking computer systems as one of them. Could a person with Autism go a step further if they really wanted to and not only hack into a person's device but look up all their past algorithms, each video they've watched on YouTube even searching quite far back into their search History?

Answer 2

Many services like YouTube will have ways for past histories to be retrieved and reviewed by just having access to a person’s account and this does not require ‘hacking’ or the creation of new algorithms.

In regard to hacking computer systems in general, if it is possible to do so then in theory a person with a diagnosis of autism could do this, as could anyone with the required computer skill. It is important to remember that they would need to have learnt the computer coding skills required to do so, have access to the equipment needed and also have the desire to do so. Not everyone with a diagnosis of autism will have a special interest in computers and even if they do they may not be interested in developing computer coding skills. If they are interested they still may not be able to develop the skills required to be able to hack other devices or create the algorithms required to gather desired information.

It is important to support your child’s interests (as long as they are safe and not placing themselves or others at risk) as they are very meaningful to them and can create a wonderful area of knowledge and support regulation. If however you are concerned that your child may not be socially aware of the effect that their special interest can have or how to channel that interest then social stories may be a way to support/ explain how many people would use these skills.

Useful links:

Cygnet Online Invitation

Cygnet – Parent Autism Awareness Programme Invite

Barnardos have responded to the CV19 situation, and continue to offer their Cygnet programme online through licensed trainers.

The programme is for parents/carers of children with aged between 7 and 18.

We are excited to announce that we have negotiated and agreed access for families of CYP who are currently on the autism assessment pathway, in addition to families of CYP who have received and autism diagnosis.

So here at Babcock LDP as licensed trainers we will be offering access to this programme during this summer holiday period, as hosting our usual parent autism awareness programme is not physically possible at this time due to CV19 restrictions.

Is this course for me?

During and after a diagnosis parents and carers can have a lot of questions about autism and may feel isolated in managing their child’s needs.

Children’s needs also change over time, and information and advice received when a child is younger may need to be updated to be relevant for the child/young person today.

Attending the Cygnet programme gives parents and carers an opportunity to develop their understanding of autism and look at practical solutions to managing social communication and behaviour difficulties.

6 weekly sessions (approx. 2hrs each) related to the following topic/themes:

  1. Introduction - 20th July
  2. Autism overview - 27th July
  3. Sensory - 3rd August
  4. Communication - 10th August
  5. Understanding Behaviour - 17th August
  6. Supporting Behaviour - 24th August


We will send a web link to your email each week (Monday a.m) to access the relevant topic. You will need an email address and the internet to access this programme. The programme is purely in an online format (not a webinar or live presentation).

We will invite and respond to questions related to training topics/themes following each week’s topic.

Posting on our Website, responses to the most commonly asked questions and additionally signposting to our already established and developing resources and themes.

How do I accept and access the programme?

Simply email to indicate you would like to accept the programme access offer (using the same email you wish weekly web link sending to)

Access invites have also been made to parents/carers on our existing waiting list for parent autism awareness programmes.

On Mon 20th July you will receive the 1st weeks web link from us. Feel free to share this email with other families you know who would also welcome access. They will then also receive full access to the programme through us.

Once engaged in the programme we will maintain contact on a weekly basis to invite any questions you may have related to programme topics, and signpost you to additional resources and themes to support your learning.

This online access may be limited to the CV19 period only, so we would highly recommend access and completion if the programme is right for you?

The main benefit of online access is the ability to access on any day and time that fits with your own family life.

Apply direct by email to:

Additional Communication & Interaction weekly themed supporting resources are available for viewing at:

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