I have long worked with adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum. The issues are complicated and require a broad understanding of psychological and behavioral approaches. Successful outcomes require a therapeutic program that includes anxiety reduction, coping strategies, social skills development, self-regulation, leveraging social supports, and healthy planning for the future. Individuals who are "on the spectrum" come to me with a variety of initial issues; but as we dig into their needs there are similarities that inevitably require a broader program. These clients have often gone many years without true support and understanding. While their outcomes are usually quite hopeful, it takes time for them to understand that. As a psychologist and board-certified behavior analyst I draw from a pretty large tool box when I'm developing programs for high-functioning clients on the autism spectrum. While these are complicated programs they are a delight to see in motion, as they bring hope and success to people who often have been offered very little in the past.
I believe the key to successful therapy with these individuals is the use of self-regulation across their goals. This allows them to take control of their gains over time, as they plan their successes, measure their improvements, and better understand what they want to make them happy. I am a firm believer in a collaborative approach. This involves not just planning what therapy should look like, but executing treatment variables, recording progress, and putting all into a context that makes sense for the individual client. As they go through life with a new "dashboard" in front of them, they come back to session each week with tangible data to chew on. What worked well? What needs tweaking? What is the next treatment variable to consider? What do we celebrate?