Autism: Understanding and Supporting Individuals on the Spectrum
Bridging the perspectives between neurotypical and neurodiversity
Autism is considered to be a life long developmental condition that can affect how an individual thinks, communicates with and relates to other people, and interacts the world around them. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or the perhaps more neutral term, Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), is a term used to describe a wide range of symptoms and severity levels that may be considered to be on a spectrum.
Autism has undergone many changes over the past 50 years in its definition and description as we find out more about it. In the future, it is highly likely that we will see further changes in how autism is described and understood as our collective understanding and research develops.
There is a wide variety of views in the terminology of autism. Some people with autism (inside perspective), or the autistic person's family members (outside perspective), might prefer autism to be viewed as a disability, whilst other people might prefer autism to be viewed as a condition, or a type of diversity between human beings, hence someone with autism might identity with being considered and identified as neurodiverse. .
Autism is much more common than previously thought, about one in one hundred people in the UK are thought to be on the autistic spectrum. Whilst the exact causes of autism are still unknown, recent scientific research shows that subtly atypical brain function may be involved in the differences in thinking and behaviour. There is also much research to show evidence that genetic factors contribute to autism and that multiple genes are involved alongside different combinations of genes from different families or individuals.
Individuals with autism can often struggle with social interactions and may find it difficult to understand nonverbal cues, facial expressions, and emotions. Some autistic people may take things literally, finding metaphors or sarcasm difficult to understand.
People with autism may also have difficulty with language, both expressing themselves and in understanding others thoughts, intentions, emotions and behaviours. Classic autism can sometimes be accompanied by other conditions such as dyslexia and epilepsy. Comorbidity can also be common in terms of the experience of depression and anxiety.
What is clear is that people with autism can present differently for individuals and that there is a variety of strengths and challenges which a person on the autistic spectrum may experience.
Whilst what we know about autism currently indicates it is a life long condition, psychotherapy and counselling can help individuals with autism better understand and manage the things that they find challenging. Person-centred counselling is a type of talking therapy that can be particularly effective for individuals with autism.
Person-centred counselling is a type of talking therapy that focuses on the individual's needs and desires. This approach emphasizes the importance of the therapist's unconditional positive regard, empathy, and understanding of the client. The therapist works to create a non-judgmental and supportive environment where the client can express themselves freely and work towards their own goals.
For individuals with autism, person-centred counselling can be a helpful approach because it focuses on their unique experiences and individual strengths. This approach also allows for the therapist to adapt to the individual's communication style, which can be particularly important for individuals with autism who may have difficulty expressing themselves verbally.
Person-centred counselling can help individuals with autism in a number of ways. For example, it can help them to better understand and manage their emotions, improve their social skills, and develop coping strategies for dealing with anxiety or sensory issues. Additionally, person-centred counselling can provide a safe and supportive space for individuals with autism to explore their interests and develop their sense of identity.
In conclusion, autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can make social interactions and communication difficult. While there is no cure for autism, psychotherapy can be an effective way to help individuals with autism manage their symptoms. Person-centred counselling is a type of psychotherapy that can be particularly helpful for individuals with autism because it focuses on their unique experiences and strengths. By creating a safe and supportive environment, person-centred counselling can help individuals with autism to better understand themselves and their place in the world.
If you have been diagnosed with Autism or you think you might be autistic and you are looking for talking therapy with a therapist trained and experienced to work with people that are neurodiverse, you are most welcome to contact me and from there we can look at arranging your initial session.