How do you tell your Therapist...?

I'm giving Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) another go - albeit again I'm becoming disheartened by the process. These so-called professionals really aren't geared to deal with an autistic perspective at all.

The Practitioner specialises in 'anxiety issues', and readily admits he has no idea about autism - saying I'm the 'expert' (god help me). He seems intently focussed on the issue of 'panic attacks', even though I say to him I don't consider myself as ever had one. Yet he focuses on anxiety issues with the attention worthy of an autistic! Okay, I do suffer anxiety with the best of Autistics, but for me (cognitive/sensory) overload is far more of a problem. If anything, as a defense mechanism (or attempt to redistribute internal resources) I tend to go into a catatonic state when suffering from overload (unless persistently exposed, whereby I can reach 'meltdown' and lash out), rather than the hyper-aroused state I would assume is a panic attack.

Part of the problem is that I'm having trouble explaining to him the difference between 'panic attacks' and '(cognitive/sensory) overload'. Indeed, I'm seemingly just not getting across to him just how complex and deafening the autistic mind can be, and how exhaustion results from trying to process the sheer volume of thought, rather than a build up to a panic attack.

Does anyone have a clear-cut and concise way for me to explain the difference between a 'panic attack' and '(cognitive/sensory) overload'?

  • Don't get me wrong, I know you are going through great stress at the moment, however, I think CBT can be of value because if you look at people who are sufferers (many famous ones indeed) yet have achieved a great deal in life, then there must be a way to use thoughts to take some focus off your difficulties. So, maybe just trying to take a positive and up-beat approach to CBT might allow the therapy to take some effect. Fact is, Evan, no therapy can work if there is no belief in it on the part of the sufferer because it is the sufferer who does the real work in trying to improve the situation. Perhaps you are too depressed and lacking energy to really get the most out of CBT but I do think persistence is important here since, sooner or later, you might get into the swing of it and get some real benefit. It might be, also, that you don't really have the right therapist for you, I don't know, in which case trying to get someone who you 'click' with more could be helpful.

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