The most important thing to know about my approach to treating autism is that I DO NOT TREAT AUTISM. That is because there is nothing to treat or fix in an autistic brain, it is simply a different neurotype! The stress and challenges autistic people face are the result of having an autistic brain and trying to get it to behave in not-autistic ways, while living in a world designed for neurotypical people. In my work with autistic people, we work together to identify the person’s goals and the skills they are missing that would be necessary to achieve that goal. Some of the areas many of my clients want to focus on include social skills, executive functioning, life skills, and emotion regulation/burnout management. But, not all people need or want all of these skills. Thus, my approach is tailored to the individual and their specific goals.
A lot of my work with adolescents involves education about autism for both the client and their family. Understanding your child’s unique brain and learning strategies to help them manage their life are a key part of my counseling style. Parent coaching is a crucial part of my adolescent treatment. It is my hope that by increasing everyone’s knowledge and skill, the whole family will experience less conflict!
What about masking?
Some potential clients will ask me “If you’re teaching social skills (or any other skill), aren’t you just teaching masking?” And the truth is, I am. But some level of masking is necessary for autistic people (and really all people to an extent) to survive in a neurotypical society. By collaborating with my clients to identify their personal goals, rather than just trying to make them appear “less autistic,” I hope to give them targeted skills that will actually be useful in their life—masking with a purpose, if you will. Along with those skills, I help clients identify ways they can un-mask, and ways they can engage in self-care to deal with the effects of masking. We will talk a lot about burnout and spend time identifying what triggers burnout and ways to manage it before and after it happens.