I have been privileged to work with people with autism or Asperger’s syndrome for many years in the NHS and with charitable and private organisations.
skills, strengths, abilities and interests:
People with autism often have areas of real strength and ability. This might be a skill in maths, computing or music; a passion for collecting facts and figures; a real eye for detail or a fantastic memory for routes or places. Whatever your abilities are it is important to take pride in them and see them as a key part of who you are. Developing these interests may help build your confidence and self-esteem, provide you with relaxing distractions when you need them and give you a route into tackling some of the tasks you find more difficult.
Good quality autism assessments should not only answer the question of whether or not a person has autism, but should also create a personal profile of strengths and needs. This profile should be based on an in-depth assessment that takes account of the person’s development, their communication and social interaction, their behaviour and their thinking style. Assessment reports should include recommendations based on the person’s specific profile that are relevant to their current context and likely future needs.
The lead-up to being assessed for autism can be a challenging time for people. Many of the families I have worked with over the years have been on a confusing journey through various services that have been unable to answer their questions in a straight forward way. For many, finally having that assessment can feel like a significant step forward and can produce a feeling of relief to know that someone has heard and understood the challenges they face. For others, a diagnosis may come as a shock or can feel like unwelcome news. There is no right or wrong way to feel but understanding and adjusting to a diagnosis of autism is an important process for a person and their family. Psychological support with this process can be helpful and may include information and advice, counselling or adjustment therapy, making plans for the future or exploring new ways of relating. This may be anything from a one-off conversation to a series of therapy sessions.
People with autism spectrum conditions can benefit from psychological interventions aimed at finding skills and strategies to overcome or cope with some of the challenges of everyday life. These may be challenges associated with their autism or challenges associated with living in an environment that is not autism-friendly. Some of the key areas that can be of benefit include:
- making life more predictable
- strategies for emotion regulation
- effective means of communicating needs and preferences
- managing friendships and relationships
- coping with change
- managing other people’s expectations or unwelcome behaviour
- understanding emotions, thoughts and feelings
- adjusting the physical or sensory environment
- managing the social environment
People with autism, like anyone else, may experience additional problems such as anxiety, low mood, anger, depression, relationship difficulties, low self-esteem, bereavement and loss, fears and phobias, health management and more. CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), psychosocial interventions, behavioural interventions and family therapy can be helpful. However, it is often necessary for these therapies to be adapted to suit your particular style, profile and preferences. Psychological therapy adapted and delivered by a therapist who understands autism may be more likely to result in a good outcome.
positive behaviour support:
It is not unusual for people with autism to feel challenged by their environment, other people they come into contact with or aspects of daily life. This can lead to distress or anxiety or other uncomfortable feelings. If they do not have effective ways of managing the cause of these feelings they may behave in ways that those around them do not like or in ways that cause further discomfort over time. Understanding this behaviour in context is an essential part of designing effective behaviour support plans and strategies. Careful psychological assessment of behaviour that you or others find challenging can result in effective interventions and lasting change. Positive behaviour support is important because it can improve quality of life and reduce the use of restrictive interventions.
To make a referral or request help with one of these areas please make contact by email.