Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.
• Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills
• Avoidance of eye contact
• Persistent preference for solitude
• Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
• Delayed language development
• Persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia)
• Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings
• Restricted interests
• Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)
• Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors
Start by being patient and kind with yourself, your spouse, and your child. You have just received life-altering news. Give yourself time to process all of the feelings that you are going to encounter, and don’t suppress your emotions. Many parents of children with autism find it helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist after they receive the initial diagnosis. Next, get to work and arm yourself with information. We are learning more and more about autism every day, so it pays to stay as current as you are able. Be sure to reach out to the community to find out about the best programs and other resources in your area. You aren’t expected to face this challenge alone.
Indicators of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people
According to the Centers for Disease Control, Autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children today; four times more prevalent in boys than girls. We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.
The truth is, we don’t really know how life will unfold for your child—but there aren’t any parents who can know what life holds for their children. We do know that with early intervention, occupational therapy, and other adjustments, parents can increase their child’s success and fulfillment in life.
The common behaviors associated with ASD are often stubborn, complex, and difficult to treat, so you may never get your child to stop completely. It’s important to remember that many of these behaviors are merely symptoms of a larger underlying problem. For instance, meltdowns may be the result of a minimally verbal child being unable to express important needs. Treatments and therapies that are rooted in ABA can be effective at reducing challenging or destructive behaviors and replacing them with positive behaviors. At Xela Care, we address the holistic, individual needs of each child. Our team works with you and your child to identify the root causes of the challenging behaviors rather than treating the symptom only.
Counselling sessions can help you to gain clarity on an issue, change old patterns, untangle complex personal issues, or embark on a journey of self-development. You may seek counselling as a result of a crisis, or you may be encouraged to seek counselling by family members, friends or colleagues.
• anxiety (generalized anxiety problems, panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety, claustrophobia)
• workplace issues (stress, work-life imbalances)
• relationship issues (breakups, divorce, affairs, choosing inappropriate partners, loneliness, life adjustments, marital problems, arguments, jealousy, wedding and premarital issues)
• depression (including suicidal thoughts, low mood, social withdrawal)
• low self-esteem and lack of confidence
• sexual problems (impotence, internet/pornography/sex addiction, loss of desire, infertility)
• trauma (including post-traumatic stress disorder from accidents, rape and other attacks/incidents)
• obsessive-compulsive disorder
• eating problems (including bulimia, binge eating, negative body image)
• phobias and fears
• addiction and substance misuse
• abuse (including physical, verbal, and sexual abuse)
The length of your treatment will very much depend on your unique circumstances and needs, with six sessions often recommended and a review after that. It also depends on the type of therapy you choose to try. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is designed to be short-term and lasts six to 20 sessions. Psychodynamic, psychoanalytic, and existential therapies tend to be longer term, and many last for many months or even years.
Keep in mind that once you start sessions, new issues and angles can arise you were not aware existed that you then want to explore. It is of course possible to also see improvement faster than you expected.
There is no typical counselling session. The psychologist will be highly trained in listening and reflecting, and provides a safe environment in which to explore your issues. With most types of therapy you are free to discuss what you wish, from everyday events, dilemmas, feelings, and thoughts, to regrets, aspirations, memories and dreams. Other, shorter-term forms of therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be more structured and provide practical exercises to help you understand your thoughts and actions.
There are many kinds of established therapeutic approaches nowadays, including humanistic counselling (also called ‘person-centred’), psychodynamic psychotherapy, existential therapy, cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Don’t worry if you are simply not sure what particular approach would be suited to you. Your first appointment will be an assessment where you can discuss your issues and the different types of therapy that might help. Psychologists are also what is known as ‘integrative’, meaning they are trained in several types of therapy they can blend to best match your issues.
Yes, counselling sessions are confidential. The exception would be if you were to pose a danger to yourself or others, in which case the relevant parties would be notified.