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Can an Aspie benefit from regular counseling?


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As the title said, can an Aspie benefit from regular counseling? This would be for perspective, coping strategies for stress, and the like. Would they be self aware enough? Able to listen at all without being so rigid that nothing gets through? I realize that it probably depends somewhat on the individual. I'm mainly wondering if it is worth pursuing or if it would be a waste of time that might make things worse.

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The "could make it worse" conundrum goes for everyone. Our counselor says not to give a therapist more than two sessions to win you over. :-) If they are not a good fit in two sessions, you need someone else.

 

We have a family counselor that we all talk to together and sometimes separately. She has been a help. However, she is very Aspie-literate. Exceptionally so. She comes from a CBT background.

 

If you are concerned about making things worse, there are some self-workbooks on some topics that comes from a CBT perspective. There is one called Anxiety-Free Kids that is for parents and kids to do together, and it's based on CBT. I think it would be too young for you. https://www.amazon.com/Anxiety-Free-Kids-Interactive-Parents-Children/dp/1618215612/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489502499&sr=1-1&keywords=anxiety+free+kids+an+interactive+guide+for+parents+and+children

 

If you are interested in books, I could try to look around a bit. I have not (yet) used any, but I have been keeping my eye open.

 

Tony Attwood and Michelle Garnett have a new (2016 publication date) book that has some CBT principles in it for kids who are ASD Level 1. It's labeled a self-help guide. I have not used it, but I have it out of the library right now and can look at it if you have specific questions.

https://www.amazon.com/Exploring-Depression-Beating-Blues-Understanding/dp/1849055025

 

 

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DS recently completed several months of therapy to help him deal with anxiety. Now we probably got lucky -- he hit it off tremendously with the first therapist we tried. The therapist said DS was one of the best patients he's ever worked with in terms of learning to implement the strategies he taught. Mostly he focused on teaching DS to control his breathing in order to control his anxiety level, and he used a computer "game" to help with that, which DS found fun and interesting. But . . . rigidity has never been a huge problem for DS. He's reasonably open to most things. The therapist tried some visualization techniques, but that didn't work. DS says he just can't visualize things well at all.

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You might find a combination approach could work too. A behaviorist or BCBA or someone with training in the Social Thinking materials would be better to dealing with the rigidity. A counselor with experience with autism and CBT would be helpful for calming, etc. So not really one or the other but both. It sounds more like you're wanting improved Social Thinking, so you need someone with that training and experience. Could be a variety of labels.

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I think you want someone who practices CBT and not touchy-feely "psychodynamic" or "humanistic". Sitting around talking about "how does this make you feel?" is likely to be seen as a waste of time. Whereas a more rational, "Ok, what are the negative thoughts and/or behaviors and what some more positive ones can we replace them with?" is likely to go over better.

 

Discussing coping strategies would fit into a more CBT approach.

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Socialthinking - Home

 

Just in case you haven't seen it this is what we're talking about with Social Thinking. You can go to the training and you can find people who've been trained in using the materials. They have materials for specifically what you're wanting worked on. 

 

A combo approach can be really good with Social Thinking, where somebody comes in once a week to work on it (behaviorist, SLP, anybody trained) and then you carry the concepts over at home in your discussions, your lit time, your parenting, etc. 

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I would look for a therapist qualified to do CBT.

 

CBT can also be done as a self-help approach and there are quite a few resources out but for something like this to be helpful, there has to be a certain degree of self-motivation. Especially if we are talking about a teen.

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Yes. General talking about issues and coping skills, CBD and a social skills group were all excellent resources for us. DS would still be going, but I've not made the time. I incorporate what I learned into our home discussions with all the kids. It was beneficial for he and I to learn how to talk things out in more productive ways. 

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You might also find this useful:

https://iancommunity.org/cs/simons_simplex_community/cognitive_behavioral_therapy

 

Here's a partial quote:

"ADAPTING CBT FOR ASD

In recent years, there have been a number of attempts to adapt CBT for children and teens on the autism spectrum. The focus has often been on those who also have anxiety because this is so common in individuals with ASD.3,4

 

One challenge was to find out whether children with ASD have the skills necessary to succeed at CBT. Fortunately, it appears they do. A study published in 2012 evaluated the cognitive skills of children with ASD and compared them to those of typical children. The children with ASD had the skills required for CBT in almost every instance. They were able to distinguish thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and to work on altering their thoughts. Their only area of difficulty was in recognizing emotions.5

 

In addition, traditional CBT tends to require strong linguistic and abstract thinking abilities, and these can be a challenge for individuals on the autism spectrum. Realizing this, researchers have worked to develop modifications to CBT that render it more ASD-friendly, such as making it more repetitive, as well as visual and concrete.

 

For example, instead of merely asking children to verbally rate their anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10, the therapist might have a thermometer showing anxiety from low to high and have the participants point to the prop to illustrate how high their anxiety is around a certain situation. Another strategy is to focus on the children’s talents and special interests, which helps keep them engaged and motivated, and to build in frequent movement breaks or sensory activities for those who might have problems with attention or sensory under- or over-reactivity."

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I just had the chance to come back to the link in my previous post to read through the whole thing and watch the videos. Anyway, quoting some more points that I felt needed highlighting based on some comments made here.

 

" Many behavioral therapies have been used to treat young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), including Applied Behavior Analysis and Pivotal Response Training. Older children, teens, and adults with ASD may benefit from another intervention with a behavioral component: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

 

BEYOND BEHAVIOR

Therapies based on the science of behavior have been effective for people of all ages, and are an essential item in any mental health professional’s toolkit. They only go so far, however. Human beings are “meaning makers.†That is, their behavior is not just the result of stimulus and response or reward and punishment. They take in what is happening around them and give it meaning, loaded with emotion. Then they behave.

 

CBT takes into account the thoughts (or cognitions) we have about things, the feelings that result, and the behavior that follows."

 

Also this in regards to social skills:

 

"The researher Susan White notes that CBT should also address social skills in individuals with ASD because “the core social deficits in young people with ASD contribute to the experience of anxiety, which then serves to intensify the teen’s social problems.†"

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You might also find this useful:

https://iancommunity.org/cs/simons_simplex_community/cognitive_behavioral_therapy

 

Here's a partial quote:

"ADAPTING CBT FOR ASD

In recent years, there have been a number of attempts to adapt CBT for children and teens on the autism spectrum. The focus has often been on those who also have anxiety because this is so common in individuals with ASD.3,4

 

One challenge was to find out whether children with ASD have the skills necessary to succeed at CBT. Fortunately, it appears they do. A study published in 2012 evaluated the cognitive skills of children with ASD and compared them to those of typical children. The children with ASD had the skills required for CBT in almost every instance. They were able to distinguish thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and to work on altering their thoughts. Their only area of difficulty was in recognizing emotions.5

 

In addition, traditional CBT tends to require strong linguistic and abstract thinking abilities, and these can be a challenge for individuals on the autism spectrum. Realizing this, researchers have worked to develop modifications to CBT that render it more ASD-friendly, such as making it more repetitive, as well as visual and concrete.

 

For example, instead of merely asking children to verbally rate their anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10, the therapist might have a thermometer showing anxiety from low to high and have the participants point to the prop to illustrate how high their anxiety is around a certain situation. Another strategy is to focus on the children’s talents and special interests, which helps keep them engaged and motivated, and to build in frequent movement breaks or sensory activities for those who might have problems with attention or sensory under- or over-reactivity."

 

Not to point out the obvious, but this is the same stuff they're doing in the Social Thinking materials, and you can buy a book for say $50 and have weeks worth of lessons. That psych/counselor for CBT is $100 an hour. I like both, sure, but there's a LOT you can do by getting materials on SocialThinking.com, reading them, using them.

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Not to point out the obvious, but this is the same stuff they're doing in the Social Thinking materials, and you can buy a book for say $50 and have weeks worth of lessons. That psych/counselor for CBT is $100 an hour. I like both, sure, but there's a LOT you can do by getting materials on SocialThinking.com, reading them, using them.

Actually, a psych would be a lot more here.

 

I have looked at the Social Thinking materials and they don't really appeal to me. They have lumped together kids with various diagnoses when the needs of kids with autism differ from those of ADHD. They offer a one size fits all approach that doesn't work for me.

 

That’s just me though, which is why I try to avoid voicing personal opinions as much as possible. I try to share info and let others decide for themselves what they feel will work best for their child and family.

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Adding, if it's not obvious through the quotes, if you look at the link it is pretty clear that it's not the same thing. CBT is personalized to the child’s needs and uses their interests to build relationships and work on areas the child needs. Each child is different. A CBT therapist works like a coach/ mentor.

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Here are some more facts for geeks like me.

 

This is a brief history of CBT.

 

https://www.beckinstitute.org/about-beck/our-history/history-of-cognitive-therapy/

 

A quote:

"Cognitive Therapy (CT), or Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) was pioneered by Dr. Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s, while he was a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania."

 

The Social Thinking materials are the creation of M. Garcia Winner an SLP with *no* background in psychology.

 

https://www.socialthinking.com/Speaker%20Details?name=Michelle%20Garcia%20Winner

 

A year ago I looked to see if she perhaps borrowed from Albert Bandura's Social Learning Theory but nope, no connection there either.

 

https://www.verywell.com/social-learning-theory-2795074

 

I have no idea what the background of her theories is. I have yet to figure out. Have there been any studies done, with autistic kids especially?

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