Therapeutic Strategies for Adults with ASD. Professional and Social Adaptation 107
LCSW-R, Master’s in Social Work, is a Psychotherapist in Private Practice, and the DIR-Expert, The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning (ICDL), New York, USA
Clinical tools available to clinicians working with autists are mostly geared to the child and adolescent population: providing early intervention therapies, building academic skills, resolving school age behavioral problems etc. Yet, with the first wave of those diagnosed during the recent “autism epidemics” reaching adulthood, and with advancement in age of those diagnosed earlier, there is an emerging need for new methods. Due to the neurodiversity movement and growing self-awareness of the autistic community, grown-up individuals with ASD rely notably less on the strictly behavioral tools and yearn for comprehensive, sensible strategies to address their complex social and emotional needs. This paper examines unique challenges of adulthood that autists face: e.g., finding an authentic professional self, building and maintaining relationships, all while dealing with additional challenges of their unique developmental profiles. It also discusses making choices of therapeutic techniques, and details benefits and rewards of play- and affect-based therapeutic work. Using DIRFloortime and mentalization strategies offers multiple opportunities for spontaneous, improvised psychotherapeutic contact in the context of unstructured playful intervention. Such work is aimed at building the unique support system for autists and for their families and partners. Case vignettes of adult clients with ASD are used.
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