Dear Therapist Who Knows Barely Anything About Autism,
Don’t you worry, I'm not here to shame you. I was once there too.
Graduate school training is so broad. I was never taught anything about autism, other than to read the DSM-5.
I’m guessing you likely had a similar experience in grad school.
So, you’re probably uncomfortable identifying autism, unless the signs are extremely obvious and stereotypical: averted eye contact, difficulty socializing with peers, extreme specific interests, and stimming behavior.
I think that’s probably the majority of therapists.
Even if you’ve decided to educate yourself more about autism, there’s a lot of information about “the spectrum” and it can be hard to wade through it all.
It can be hard to know what is what. I found it all very confusing. What is an autistic trait? What is just a neurotypical trait?
Oh, I might have jumped ahead of myself there.
There’s a new movement called “neurodiversity” that reframes neuro “disorders” as brain processing differences. It means we don’t have to look at autism as something “wrong” or to be “cured,” but rather something to be understood and embraced.
So someone who possesses a brain that processes differently then the average person (referred to as neurotypicals) is called neurodiverse.
The neurodiversity movement also advocates that neurodiverse people get to define the experience for themselves.
So I’m here to say thank you for acknowledging how little you know.
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing it means you’d like to know more. Thank you for that, too. I think it will lead to more neurodiverse people being identified/diagnosed when they go to therapy, as well as more understanding for neurodiverse people in the world.
But back to the issue at hand: you recognize you know very little and you want to know more.
Where can you start?
You can view my resource page, which includes my favorite books, articles, and videos.
I’ve also written many essays on this topic that you might mind helpful:
I’ll spare you the long list, there’s plenty more on my website if you’re curious.
Thanks again for taking the time.
My life was revolutionized when I found out I am autistic. It was my therapist who gently suggested it.
I hope you may be that therapist to someone else one day.
Thank you for reading. I work with self-identified autistic individuals
and those who are wondering if they might be autistic.
If you'd like to work together, you can start here.