Counseling individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)
After the last decade of working with individuals on the Autism Spectrum, both at home and professionally I have learned that treatment requires many different puzzle pieces be addressed. Here is a brief outline of tips I like to keep in mind:
CONCRETE LANGUAGE: Both children and adults will interpret things very literally – and it impacts their understanding of others and themselves.
KNOWING WHAT TO DO, BUT NOT WHEN TO DO IT: People on the Spectrum can feel very overwhelmed and confused by other’s actions and expectations of behavior.
HIGH ANXIETY, ANGRY OUTBURSTS, SHUTTING DOWN: Learning techniques of self-soothing and healthy self-talk is a struggle for those with an ASD.
DIFFICULTIES WITH SENSORY REGULATION / INTEGRATION: Sensory sensitivity is a very common and real neurological phenomenon. For the child with an ASD it is especially hard to communicate their experience since they won’t realize that you aren’t experiencing the same thing.
DIFFICULTIES WITH PERSPECTIVE TAKING (eg: ‘Theory of Mind’): At their core, ASDs are social communication disorders and being able to see alternate perspectives is a ‘blind spot’ for those with an ASD.
FAMILY IMPACT: Since a family is a social unit, the social struggles of those with an ASD affect all family members deeply.
OTHER PROFESSIONALS: There are many different types of interventions that can be blended over time to help the individual with an ASD.
- Neuro-psychological Assessment
- Individualized Education Plans – IDEA and the school systems’ mandate to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech and Language Therapy (including social pragmatics)