Category Archives: Autism and Mental Health

Mental Health Therapy and the Autistic Client: When Clinician’s Don’t See the Autism

Today, autistic people, just like the population at large, find their way to therapy when symptoms of depression, anxiety, OCD and other diagnoses become problematic to them in their daily lives.

As clinicians we need to understand the autistic operating system – in other words, to see the autism – if we are to be helpful to our autistic clients. When we do not have a strong grasp on this the results are that our clients are not served well. Clinicians without a good understanding of autism generally make one of two mistakes. One mistake is not seeing the autism at all, but instead seeing individual characteristics of autism and matching them with a clinical diagnosis. (The next blog will explore this more.) The other mistake is, once the autism has been diagnosed every symptom from that point forward is attributed to the autism. Today we will look at an example of when clinicians think, “It’s all the autism.”

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Mental Health Therapy and the Autistic Client: The Autistic Operating System

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).

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Mental Health Therapy and the Autistic Client: Establishing Context

Background Information:

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.

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