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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Autistic Adults Deserve Better from the Mental Health Field

I’m upset by how mental health and medical professionals treat autistic adults.


Upset is probably an understatement. I’m trying to reign in the cascading emotions I am feeling, but truthfully I am frustrated and angry. I’m fed up.


So what exactly am I so upset about?


I’m upset about the unidentified autistic who goes for therapy, and their therapist isn’t knowledgeable enough to know that they might be autistic.


Autistic art therapist Jackie Schuld shares an illustration of herself crying over what she is reading
"Upset" Illustration by Jackie Schuld

I’m upset about the self-identified autistic who gets gaslit by their therapist who says, “No, you couldn’t possibly be autistic.”


I’m upset by the graduate education system that does not adequately educate its professionals about autism from a neurodiverse lens.


I’m upset by the self-identified autistic who looks for a therapist, and ends up with a therapist who says they can work with autistics, but actually knows very little.


I’m upset by the unidentified autistic who goes to therapy for help, and gets misdiagnosed as “borderline personality disorder” because their therapist didn’t know enough about autism.


I’m upset that many people have to wait months or even years to get a formal assessment.


I’m upset that autism assessments are archaic tools based on external behaviors that often miss the interior autistic characteristics exhibited by women, AFAB, and adults.


I’m upset that the formal diagnosis procedures focus solely on the perceived negative aspects of autism.


I’m upset by how hard it is to find an autistic therapist.


Here’s the simple truth:

  1. Graduate education for mental health and medical professionals needs to include neurodiversity. You can read more in my essay Your Therapist Doesn’t Know As Much You Think They Do)

  2. Currently licensed mental health and medical professionals need training and education about neurodiversity

  3. The formal assessment process needs to be updated so that it includes a neurodiverse lens and so that Masters Levels professionals can assess. You can read more in my essay Who Can Diagnose Autism.

It’s going to take a long time for these things to happen - which is another reason I am so frustrated. I know harm will continue to be unknowingly perpetuated on my fellow autistics.


So in the meantime:


We deserve better.


 

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more, sign up for my FUNletter. If you would like to explore your autistic identity with an autistic therapist, you can learn more about my therapy services here.

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