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'?

Parents Reply
  • That’s very well said  

    I had this revalation (to a deeper degree) a little while ago. I guess I knew it at an intellectual level, but since learning about my autism, and finding different ways to see things/approach things, it made me realise (and I told this to my psychiatrist) that I can learn new things, I just wasn’t aware of many of the other things/ways  before due to focussed thinking etc. Which are all great things, if I focus them towards what I want to achieve.

    I was always offered the opportunity to train in CBT, to use with my clients (when working in the NHS), but I always declined the offers. I was working effectively with clients anyway, so it wasn’t a necessary. 

    But I have never heard it explained the way that you just explained it. It has changed my views on it completely. I was never against it and I have seen it work with many people and indeed it has been used with me at times in my own therapy sessions. 

    But I never understood it in the way you just explained  it and suddenly, I can see it’s significance and value and why it works. 

    It’s essentially, the same work as I do but at a more psychological level, whereas metaphysics goes deeper, but they’re both doing the same thing. I knew all this on one level of consciousness but you have helped me to see it in another way now whereby I can really see it for what it is. Thank you. 

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