Therapy isn’t a walk in the park for anyone, but autism presents an additional layer of challenges when you’re trying to seek emotional and psychological support. Whether you’re in counseling for issues related to your autism or for other reasons piled on top, it’s difficult to discern what’s helpful and what’s not. Here are a few things to consider when navigating the process to help you make sure that you get the help you are looking for:
- It’s good to know that you’re making the right steps. You recognize that you need some extra help and you’re taking the steps to get help. It’s a much bigger accomplishment than you realize.
- Autism makes it harder for us to communicate. Whether we’re verbal or partially verbal or non-verbal, it’s often difficult to put words together, particularly in stressful and emotional situations, which therapy can be. Additionally, communication goes both ways. It can be even harder to understand the words and signals that the therapist you’re meeting with is trying to communicate.
- Make sure your therapist knows about the details of your communication needs. This may mean that your therapist needs to be very clear and direct in their language, or it may mean that they’ll need to wait while you type or press buttons to speak. Work with your therapist to clarify your needs. It can help if the person you’re working with is well-versed in autism spectrum disorders.
- If it’s easier for you to put your thoughts on paper than speaking aloud, ask your therapist if you can write in a journal or type something to show them. This might make communicating less stressful for you.
- Therapy can be very stressful. To get through the session, consider bringing a fidget toy or something else that comforts you. After the session, take your time to calm down. Use music, a favorite scent, stimming, etc. to relax and let go of the things that were brought up during the session.
- If it’s difficult for you to make appointments, try to explain this to your therapists. Whether it makes you anxious or is challenging due to communication needs, see if someone can help you through the process of going to the right desks and knowing what to say to each person you have to interact with.
- Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns to your therapist. The therapeutic relationship is dependent upon communication, and it is important to try your best to communicate. Let them know what your strengths and weaknesses are, so that they can help you to the best of their ability.