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'?
As well as the other very helpful responses in this thread, I wondered if you might want to show your therapist the page from the NAS 'Too Much Information' programme about sensory overload, since it might help distinguish between overload and a panic/anxiety attack if they are unfamiliar with ASD (since they are indeed very different!). The page is here - http://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/tmi/stories/sensory.aspx - and is made up of four people with ASD telling their stories of dealing with sensory overload and how it affects them.
Ross - mod
Fabulous Ross, thank you. That will be helpful for me as well. I don’t know why but I never seem to think for myself to go to the information on your site yet by following a link that you or another moderator gave the other day to someone regarding eating, I finally (after 50 years) understand my problems with eating and I’m now trying a new solution. I’ll check out the links. Thank you.