Why would someone with autism spectrum disorder or Asperger’s syndrome want to see me as a counsellor?
I have always been fascinated by how people communicate- not just with words but non verbally. So much of what we communicate to each other in social interaction is non verbal- turn taking, gestures, body language, tone of voice, intonation, facial expressions, personal space, humour and eye contact. I am also interested when difficulties occur in interpersonal communication. I have an understanding of and an interest in autism and Aspergers. I am also interested in language development, learning differences/disabilities/difficulties (eg dyslexia), social skills and child development.
What problems do people with autism spectrum disorder / Asperger's syndrome experience?
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder / Asperger's syndrome often experience emotional problems; have difficulties with understanding social interaction; have limiting beliefs about themselves, others and the world; have repetitive routines; have sensory integration difficulties. Autism spectrum disorder / Asperger's syndrome are developmental disorders.
Many people with autism / Aspergers experience depression, anxiety, confusion, frustration, low self esteem and social isolation. They may also have problems coping with uncertainty, feeling out of control and managing stress as well as having difficulties controlling their feelings and behaviour.
People who are autistic / have Aspergers often have difficulties with understanding idioms in day to day life (eg 'it's raining cats and dogs') as they take communication on a very literal level. Fixed repetitive routines may provide reassurance for individuals with autism spectrum disorder or Aspergers, but these routines can also hinder social interaction and may create anxiety.
Some individuals with autism spectrum disorder or Aspergers can exhibit self harming behaviour. Others can experience problems with sensory difficulties (processing the different senses in day to day life) and / or extreme sensitivity to sensory sensations(eg sensitivity to noise, intolerance of a certain colour, irritation at labels in clothes etc).
How will counselling help someone who is autistic / has Asperger's?
Counselling can help people with autism spectrum disorder or Asperger's challenge any limiting beliefs they may have about themselves, others and the world. Examples of limiting beliefs are black / white thinking, perfectionism, minimising their own opinions while over valuing the opinions of others, generalising, not seeing the bigger picture, avoiding taking responsibility for difficulties in life, feeling hopeless/ helpless to change situations. Counselling can also boost self esteem by practicing social skills (eg small talk, turn taking) in roleplay situations and using visual prompts. Gradually changing routines can increase confidence /self esteem.
Counselling can also help people who are autistic / have Aspergers soothe their feelings. Emotions are unpredictable and because individuals with autism spectrum disorder or Aspergers syndrome take things literally and find imagining things difficult, they can find understanding and managing emotions -in themselves and others- disorientating and frightening. It is hard for someone with autism / Aspergers to consider the other person's point of view. Anxiety has many psychological(irritability, low mood, pessimistic thinking, repetitive thoughts) and physiological (eg heart racing, headaches, muscle tension, tummy ache, fast breathing, flight, fight or freeze reflex) effects. Counselling works by helping you understand the anxiety, which in turn helps you manage the symptoms better.