Mental health diagnosis and treatment has evolved over time according to what makes sense and what works for most people. We have an increasing body of research around mental health issues that informs us today. However, when it comes to autistic people we do not have a body of research that informs us about diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. Autistic people are not like most people. This means we need to understand the underlying autism neurology along with its impacts in the realm of diagnosing and treating mental health disorders in clients also diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The autism neurology gets hit with elements of confusion, chaos and change as a person goes through their day. How this happens is different for each individual on the spectrum. For example, Brady’s neurology startles to a touch on the arm, DeShawn’s neurology reacts adversely when it perceives a surprise change in the therapy room such as new curtains and Aysia’s neurology delivers a punch when her therapy routine was altered by Grandma bringing her rather than mom.
As a child, people sometimes thought I was stubborn and resistant when I did not want to allow them into my space or to do what they wanted me to do. They did not understand the negative effect they had on me and on my surroundings, and at the time, I did not have the words to explain it.
“Dissociation is the ability to cut off from what is happening around you or to you. In its simplest form it is daydreaming. It is a skill all children have and which children with autism tend to overdevelop in managing a world they find overwhelming for a whole range of reasons.” (Donna Williams at http://www.donnawilliams.net/333.0.htm)
In my work as a clinician licensed in my state to provide mental health therapy, many parents of children diagnosed with autism tell me how much they appreciate the fact that I am not only a therapist, but also am autistic. They feel they have a hybrid of sorts – I am a clinician, an autistic and have parented both children with and without autism. In addition, I have been an autism consultant for several school districts over the years so also can appreciate the educational side of things when it comes to their children with autism they are bringing to see me in the therapy setting.