Hi, and welcome to this week’s post, part 3 in my series about working together in the therapy room with autistic clients.
In this post, I’ll discuss how autistic people might benefit from thinking about how many of their behaviours might be due to the fact that they are human, and not because of autism, although they might still be tinted by the different wiring that comes with autism.
For these posts, I’d like to reference Katherine Paxton and Irene A. Estay’s book called Counselling people on the Autism Spectrum (chapter 3).
Let’s start with what I mean by some behaviour being nothing more than human behaviour.
There have been many instances where I’ve been talking to an autistic person and I’ve thought “hang on but I do that too”.
Now I’m not saying that our experiences, even though similar, aren’t experienced in very different ways.
(I felt “over-sensoried” the other day, but that was just because I hadn’t slept well and had lots to do and was getting overwhelmed to the point that I couldn’t have the radio on while working, for that few hours in the day. This is different from having a sensory sensitivity as an autistic, which doesn’t go away with a bit of sleep).
It is all about meeting the person where they are, and understanding how the situation led them to react a particular way, which might be similar to how I’ve responded but not with the same considerations.
It might be because I’ve been around autistic people, young and old, for many years now, and I can relate and really understand what’s going on.
It also helps building a relationship with my clients and getting to know them, their triggers, the systems they’ve created to help them with daily life, amongst other things.
For example, I know that when I’ve said to a client something like “I think this might be because you’re human”, it has been reassuring.
Sometimes clients will say they wonder if they’re that different, if it was their autism that led to that breakup or that conversation turning into an argument.
If we go with the thinking behind theory of mind, it might be a possibility that a social cue was missed and that led to the argument. But it might also be the case that the argument was going to happen anyway, cues or not, because the relationship was going in that direction.
We have to take these a situation at a time. Without context, what I’m saying might be misinterpreted as being dismissive of the autistic person’s experience.
As I write this, I realise that what I’m doing is seeing the person in front of me as a whole individual, yes with different “wiring” but still a human being.
And this is why it makes sense to qualify behaviours as “human” because we are all humans, with our particular individual differences.
Until next week…