Social & Emotional Skills for Kids

Assessment of social/emotional skills in kids

Most people have heard of autism, or even may know someone who has been diagnosed as “on the spectrum”, and you may even know that someone on the autism spectrum is likely to have deficits in relating to others socially and emotionally. Knowing the exact nature of autism and it’s symptoms is more complex however, and it takes specialised training to determine whether an individual meets diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (the official DSM 5 diagnostic term). What’s more is, the diagnosis of autism can be complicated by other factors, such as comorbid disorders like ADHD and anxiety, or attachment related developmental problems.

As such, Autism CRC (the Cooperative Research Centre for Living With Autism), which is a national cooperative research effort focused on autism, has released (in draft form) new guidelines for the assessment and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in Australia. Among it’s recommendations are the development of a two tiered process of assessment. The Tier 1 diagnostic evaluation is where the decision is clear and multiple diagnosticians work separately to assess symptoms and functionality of an individual. However, when there is uncertainty in the diagnosis the individual should be referred to the second tier assessment process.

A Multidisciplinary Assessment Team

A Tier 2 diagnostic evaluation recognises that there are individuals whose presentation is more complex or subtle, and that an accurate diagnostic determination requires a broader multidisciplinary assessment team that works together to determine the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan for an individual. For this reason, Marsden Clinical Psychology have been working with local paediatricians, speech pathologists, and occupational therapists, to develop a Tier 2 multidisciplinary assessment team to service Wollongong and the greater Illawarra area.

Our social skills program

In addition, we have developed a social and emotion skills program for children who have either been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disorder, or who suffer another psychological disorder that results in social skills/emotional deficits, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or social anxiety disorder. Specifically, this program incorporates the Secret Agent Society program.


The Secret Agent Society is a program for kids with social and emotional challenges. It uses a computer based game to captivate kids while they learn social skills and emotions in a fun way. Secret Agent Society holds the highest clinical change published for a program of it’s kind, and has a firm evidence base in treatments for autism, ADHD, anxiety, and anger.

How to refer

If you recognise social difficulties in your child, student, or patient, you can make a referral to Marsden Clinical Psychology’s social skills program by calling 0414526624 or emailing We would be happy to talk you through the other options for

If you are a GP wishing to make a referral you can refer to Marsden Clinical Psychology under a mental health treatment plan.