Dr Samantha Ward (BPsy.Sci, M.Psych, PhD, MAPS) is an Educational and Developmental Psychologist who has a particular interest in the assessment and intervention of children and adolescents. Samantha is fully registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, and has memberships with the Australian Psychological Society and College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists. She is the founder and principal director of Stepping Stones for Life Psychology Qld.

Samantha has extensive knowledge and expertise in the early assessment, diagnosis and intervention of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Additionally, Samantha has extensive experience working with children, adolescents, families and young adults with Anxiety, behavioral difficulties, body image and eating disorders, Depression, Developmental and Learning disabilities, ADHD, Family breakdown (separation/divorce) and/or conflict, social and friendship difficulties, and children, adolescents and young adults who have experienced grief, loss and trauma. Samantha is also qualified to conduct psychoeducational assessments including cognitive and learning assessments.

Samantha implements efficacious therapeutic techniques and interventions. She promotes early detection, early assessment and early intervention as a fundamental approach in her practice. Samantha also seeks to provide children, adolescents and their families with coping mechanisms and tools to build resilience and cope with any transitions or adjustments that my be challenging.

Samantha adopts a strength based approach in her interventions and when appropriate, utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach by forming positive collaborative partnerships with parents, school personnel, Paediatricians, General Practitioners, Occupational Therapists, and Speech Pathologists and by implementing a range of therapeutic supports and interventions within multiple settings including the home, school and community. Samantha has extensive experience working within childcare, primary and secondary schools and has expertise in implementing strategies and modifications to best support children, adolescents and their teachers in these learning environments.

autism spectrum disorders

Samantha is on the Australian Psychological Society Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder identified practitioners list and is eligible to provide services under the Helping Children With Autism Package. This entitles eligible children to receive Medicare rebates for up to four sessions when they have been referred by a Paediatrician or Psychiatrist for further assessment for Autistic Spectrum Disorder, or up to twenty sessions of early intervention treatment. For further information please visit http://www.health.gov.au

Samantha is also on the Early Intervention Service Provider Panel to provide services to eligible individuals under the FaHCSIA early intervention funding package. This entitles eligible children to access up to $12 000 of funding toward early intervention services. To be eligible for the early intervention funding package, a child must have been seen by an Autism Advisor and deemed eligible to access the program before their sixth birthday. The $12,000 in funding can be used until the child's seventh birthday to a maximum of $6,000 per financial year. For Further information please visit http://www.fahcsia.gov.au

developmental disabilities

Samantha is also a recognised provider to provide services to eligible individuals under the Better Start for Children with Disability initiative. This funding package includes up to $12,000 in funding for early intervention services and treatments for eligible children, Medicare rebates for up to four diagnostic services and Medicare rebates for up to 20 intervention services up to the age of 15. For further information please visit http://www.fahcsia.gov.au

Samantha completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science from the University of Queensland, completed a Masters in Educational and Developmental Psychology from Queensland University of Technology, and completed her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from Queensland University of Technology.


Samantha has a strong interest in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and obtained a PhD for her research entitled “Improving Autism Detection: The Role of Practitioner Reported Influences and a Combined Parent-Clinician Informant Screening Instrument”. Samantha's research examined practitioner reported factors that may impact the timing of ASD diagnostic evaluations and continued the development of an early screening measure to detect children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.


Ward, S.L., & Gilmore, L. (2010). The Autistic Behavioural Indicators Instrument (ABII): Development and instrument utility in discriminating autistic disorder from speech and language impairment and typical development. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 4, 28-42. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2009.07.003

Ward, S.L., Sullivan, K. A., & Gilmore, L. (2016). Practitioner perceptions of the assessment and diagnosis of autism in Australia. Australian Psychologist, 51, 272-279. doi:10.1111/ap.12211

Ward, S.L., Sullivan, K.A., & Gilmore, L. (2016). Agreement between a brief autism observational instrument and established ASD measures. The Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 33, 127-138, doi:10.1017/edp.2016.1

Ward, S.L., Sullivan, K.A., & Gilmore, L. (2017). Adapting the Autistic Behavioural Indicators Instrument (ABII) as a parent questionnaire (ABII-PQ). Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 42:4, 385-390. doi: 10.3109/13668250.2016.1252037

Ward, S.L., Sullivan, K.A., & Gilmore, L. (2018). Combining parent and clinician ratings of behavioural indicators of autism spectrum disorder improves diagnostic classification. Early Child Development and Care, 188:6, 748-758, DOI: 10.1080/03004430.2016.1235567


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