Is Autism Creating Obstacles To The Life You Envisioned For Yourself?
Do you experience the world differently than others? Have you ever suspected that you or your child are on the autism spectrum? And are you overwhelmed by the expectations, demands, and stimuli created by the neurotypical world around you?
Neurodivergence is defined as having different neurological or mental functions than what’s considered “typical” by our society. Autism is a common form of neurodivergence, but many other conditions—including ADHD, learning disabilities, and Tourette Syndrome—fall under the same umbrella.
However, autistic individuals experience specific symptoms and setbacks, which can significantly affect their mental health. If you are autistic or suspect a diagnosis of autism, you may have noticed challenges in your executive functioning, emotional regulation, and social skills. Maybe you have a hard time feeling or understanding your emotions, making it difficult to connect with others. Or perhaps you become hyper-fixated, almost obsessive, about one specific subject or detail, making it hard for you to focus on and complete more general tasks.
Autism doesn’t only present in cognitive challenges—there are physical and environmental elements that may factor into a diagnosis. If you have sensory processing issues or experience difficulty with certain stimuli—lights, sounds, smells—you probably become easily overwhelmed and distracted in everyday situations. And it’s possible you have challenges with coordination or identifying certain sensations within the body (what’s otherwise known as interoceptive awareness).
Autism Commonly Co-Occurs With Other Neurological And Mental Health Issues
Neurodivergence among individuals is often co-occurring, meaning that if you fall somewhere on the spectrum, you’re more likely to struggle with learning disabilities, ADHD, or other diagnoses. Not to mention that being forced to constantly adapt to neurotypical expectations can easily lead to feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, and fear-based thinking. If you are autistic and also struggle with anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress, you are not alone.
Many aspects of everyday life can feel overwhelming when you’re neurodivergent, but it’s possible to navigate a neurotypical world on your terms. In therapy, you or your child can feel understood, accepted, and celebrated for the unique perspectives and gifts autism has instilled in you. By learning essential DBT skills in counseling, you can feel more control over your environment and experience of the world.
No One Should Feel Forced To Conform To The Neurotypical Mold
All of us strive for acceptance, and being a valued, productive member of society is essential to helping us find our purpose. Unfortunately, achieving this sense of purpose or potential can be hard when you’re neurodivergent and have to conform to a neurotypical world.
Furthermore, there are so many misconceptions about what autism is and how it appears. Autism exists on a spectrum, which means that it presents differently among the diverse range of individuals who experience it. Assumptions are often made about an autistic person’s abilities, which causes many in the autistic community to feel underestimated and misrepresented among their neurotypical counterparts. Yet, the alternative is to try to force oneself and abilities into a neurotypical mold, which is also problematic.
Due to a lack of awareness in the neurotypical community, there continue to be setbacks on the institutional level—in schools, workplaces, and within the healthcare system—that prevent autistic people from getting the support and accommodations they need. And because it’s so common for neurodivergent needs to be overlooked or unmet, autistic individuals can struggle with self-advocacy.
If you or your child have autism, it’s important that you work with an experienced counselor in the safe space of therapy to explore and process your experiences. At Suffolk DBT, we offer Dialectical Behavior Therapy from our offices in Manhattan and on Long Island as an effective treatment for some of the mental and emotional health concerns associated with autism. Our therapists are here to validate your experience and help you harness the unique qualities that autism has afforded you.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Is An Effective Way To Combat Some Of The Challenges Presented By Autism
DBT is a therapeutic approach that teaches essential skills in four areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and personal effectiveness. You can read more about our approach to DBT here, and you’ll quickly be able to recognize how its focused, structured, and skills-based framework can be a meaningful treatment for individuals with autism.
All of our clinicians specialize in DBT, and we have an experienced counselor on staff who works primarily with autism and neurodivergence. Using what’s called a “diary card,” your Long Island or Manhattan-based Suffolk DBT therapist will help you track emotions and behaviors so that you can become more aware of triggering stimuli. Your therapist will also perform a “chain analysis,” which peels back the layers of a particular behavior so that you can better understand that behavior’s function and impact on your daily experience. Group therapy is also an essential element of DBT, so you will get an opportunity through treatment to work with and learn from other individuals in the autism community.
With the four major DBT skills activated, you have a chance to practice stress management and regulation in real-time. Not only can DBT treatment put elements of your autism into perspective—it can help you improve your mental health, interpersonal skills, and general outlook. For instance, mindfulness can help you become more self-aware and less anxious, while distress tolerance can assist with emotional shutdowns. Emotional regulation is particularly helpful for intense distress responses (or meltdowns), and personal effectiveness will allow you to set boundaries and advocate for yourself in a meaningful way.
If you or your child are diagnosed with autism, it can be easy to feel defeated or like you won’t be given a chance to live a full, purpose-driven life. But therapy can help change the way you approach your neurodivergence. Through counseling at Suffolk DBT, you can gain a new outlook on your autism as you develop the skills needed to navigate the world around you.
Maybe You Have Autism But Aren’t Sure If Counseling Can Help…
If you or your child have autism, it’s important that you work with an experienced counselor in the safe space of therapy to explore and process your experiences.
Therapy is expensive.
In order to make treatment affordable, we do accept certain insurances. However, if your provider is not in-network with us, it may be worth seeing if reimbursement options are available to you.
Ultimately, therapeutic treatment is an investment, but it can greatly improve your relationship with your autism. By addressing the difficulties your autism presents in counseling, you can free up time and resources in the long run by building the life you envisioned for yourself.
Between-group therapy, individual therapy, and homework (diary cards), counseling sounds like a big commitment.
It’s true; therapy requires a commitment of your time, energy, and resources. However, the concentrated and structured nature of our approach to DBT gives you an opportunity to reinforce your skills in a specific period of time. The more you practice skills with your therapist, the more ready you’ll be to use those skills on your own—moving closer to the independent, fulfilling life you’ve imagined for yourself.
How quickly will I see results with autism-related behaviors upon going to therapy?
Learning DBT skills does take time, but the time you spend in treatment will directly correlate with how much effort you put into developing those skills. If you’re willing to put in the work through counseling, we’re confident you’ll see improvements in autism-related behaviors rather quickly.
A Fulfilling, Manageable Life Awaits You
If a diagnosis of autism is keeping you or your child from achieving the life you want, therapy at Suffolk DBT can help you reach your full potential. To find out more, schedule an appointment with our autism therapy services by contacting us on our website or calling (631) 828-2264 today.