One area that I am passionate about is supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
As counsellors, it’s so important that we continuously undergo professional development each year. Professional development is important to ensure that we are growing as professionals and offering the best serves to our clients. An area that I would like to grow in as a counsellor within the next year is working with children that have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Research has found that 1 in 70 people have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
ASD impacts how people feel, experience their surrounding environment, and interact with others socially.
Autism varies from person to person; what one person’s autism looks like may look completely different in another individual.
People with autism have a variety of specific characteristics in their strengths, social interactions, leisure, play and communications.
What are some of the Challenges Associated with Autism?
Some of the common challenges that children with autism face include anxiety, coping with change, transitioning, planning and sensory experience.
Anxiety: Anxiety is something that everyone experiences as a part of normal childhood development.
However, research has confirmed that children that have been diagnosed with autism experience higher levels of anxiety in comparison to their typically developing peers. Further studies indicate that up to 84% of individuals with autism meet the criteria for clinically diagnosed anxiety disorders.
Research explains that a child with ASD may experience severe anxiety, but due to communication difficulties find it hard to express. Some signs that your child may be experiencing anxiety include social phobia, excessive worrying, obsessive compulsive behaviour, phobias, meltdowns, shut down, controlling behaviours, rigid routines and avoidance behaviours.
Dealing with Change: Children on the spectrum find change overwhelmingly stressful. Research shows that this is because of behavioural, informational processing and sensory aspects of their diagnosis, meaning that children feel more comfortable in familiar environments with a stable routine.
“Reality to an autistic person is a confusing, interacting mass of events, people, places, sounds and sights … Set routines, times, particular routes and rituals all help to get order into an unbearably chaotic life. Trying to keep everything the same reduces some of the terrible fear.” – Jollife, et al (1992) in Howlin (2004), ibid, p.137.
Sensory challenges: Some children may experience sensory challenges, which may make them hyper-sensitive to one or a combination of the following: sights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, balance and body awareness.
Why do I want to work with children with ASD?
I have worked with children with ASD previously and have thoroughly enjoyed it.
Furthermore, knowing the statistics of children with ASD that struggle with anxiety makes me feel drawn to want to help them be their wholesome happy selves. I think it’s important as a counsellor to help minority groups because research has shown that children with ASD at times need a little extra help to cope with everyday life and its challenges. I would like to work with children to increase their awareness of their strengths, and help them learn the tools to cope with everyday life.
Author: Larissa Watter, BA Counselling.
Larissa Watter is a Brisbane counsellor, passionate about working with children. She is currently furthering her studies by undertaking a Certificate in Child Centred Play Therapy.
To make an appointment with Larissa Watter try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129 or Vision Psychology Wishart on (07) 3088 5422.