Autism awareness is at an all-time high, widely discussed by the medical community, media outlets, concerned parents and society in general. While autism may appear to be more widespread today than decades ago, experts believe the increase in diagnoses is due to greater awareness of autism and its signs and symptoms.
Autism is a neurobehavioral disorder enveloping a spectrum of symptoms and impairments that range in severity. Autism is characterised by difficulty in communicating and interacting with others, and obsessive or repetitive behaviour. Depending on how a child is communicating and interacting, autism diagnoses can start as young as two years old. It’s also not uncommon for adults to seek diagnosis if they notice symptoms in themselves or their children.
Autism can make it difficult for individuals to maintain friendships or to get along with family members. When they mature, it can be harder for them to have intimate relationships. They may also develop repetitive, obsessive or ritualistic behaviours that interfere with their daily life.
Therapy and some medications are available to help manage and control these behaviours. One of my special areas of interest is in working with adults who have high-functioning autism/Asperger’s, including those who have recently been diagnosed and are coming to terms with their diagnosis. The focus of our work tends to be on self-acceptance of one’s unique qualities rather than on trying to change to conform to “neuro-typical” values. Sometimes psychodynamic work is required in order to revisit and heal painful experiences in one’s life in which one was judged, criticised, or alienated for being different.
I also do practical therapeutic work with clients on the autistic spectrum, who are struggling with compulsions. I provide support with coping methods for anxiety related to aspects of autism. Working on social communication and forming solid and long-lasting relationships is another common goal on which my clients with autism often wish to focus.