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.
I get your point. Indeed, I'm determined to stick with it as a) I do need intervention, and b) I find CBT much better than the 'touchy feely' counselling previously offered.
That's why I came here. My Therapist is a a nice enough chap, but has extremely little understanding of autism - and is relying on me to guide him in that area. Unfortunately, there are no other Therapists to try, so we're kinda stuck with each other muddling through.
It's why I came here - simply with the intention of trying to get help in communicating how panic attacks aren't overload. He's determined to get me to do stuff around panic attacks (though I've never mentioned them or ever suffered with them), and when I did inarticulately try to explain overload (which affects me far more), he just reworded what I said to bring us back around, saying "so really, it's just another way of saying the same thing as a panic attack."
That just doesn't feel right to me. Or have I got this wrong all this time, and panic attacks are in fact the same thing as sensory-cognitive overload?!?!
My being here isn't about me giving up, but about trying to aid communication and make CBT work.
I think CBT can help part of the issue: becoming aware of the thought processes that put a lot of extra strain on us (because I didn't realise that before - but autistics can get sensory overload not only from external overload, but also from our own thought processes).
Also, I believe that our negative thinking also compromises our energy/resilience. So dealing with the thinking is really important. Learning how to relax our bodies too :-) (mindfulness based-CBT = double whammy).
However in dealing with sensory overload, it is also important to do the detective work, on what it is that causes overload. We need to become more and more in tune with our own responses and work out strategies to avoid total overload (and learn what to do before and when it happens).
I think that is the big difference with regular anxiety treatment in the NT population is that (I might be wrong) NT's learn just to change their thoughts and then the idea is to go out and face the things that make them anxious.
Whereas for autistics it might actually be a good strategy to limit certain things, avoid certain situations and to build in recuperation time - and to build resilience via planning, structure and predictability which can cut stress a lot.
I was curious and was browsing a bit, found some stuff on the topic - don't know how relevant it is. Didn't watch any of them completely ;-) but just posting it in case.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqCwqaZz9DM (applicability of CBT for ASD -talks about how CBT needs to be adapted for autistics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIsw-aLQwgY (youtube film Attwood on CBT for Aspergers -with Italian subtitles) https://www.jkp.com/uk/exploring-depression-and-beating-the-blues-34244.html : I already mentioned this book on another thread, think it is excellent.
And here a really cool series of videos for kids with ASD, explaining CBT. It is a bit slow because it is for kids, but I really think it is good :-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=af04iwPN6vI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHTLoU-7R4E (autism, anxiety & CBT) a therapist talks about CBT with autistics (aimed at kids) Also talks about body awareness and mindfulness -