HI, my 14 yo high functioning ASD chlid is having some real challenges. Primary school was a breeze, he is smart and never had to study. Secondary... another matter. His social challenges led to his friends from early years - often the result of parental playdates and the like - faded away, he is alone, having hygiene issues, refusing to go to school, sneaking up late at night to get on internet, failing tests. The school is mystified, he was such a good student, and seems to us poorly suited to meet his special learning needs. We live in Jakarta, expats, and my wife travels all the time - which leads to real disruption. We've tried a number of local expat counselors, but none are well suited. We are a bit desperate - thinking about quitting jobs and moving home - but our other kids are doing well, and we don't have really good options on return. So... we were wondering, does anyone know of any CBT specialists who work online - through Skype or some other means. Anyone have experience with that, and is it even a real option? Our boy is quite comfortable online, so we think it might even work better for him than face to face - but we are really new to this. Any guidance or views are appreciated. Cheers, Tom
Welcome to the forum, Tom.
There certainly are on-line counselling services now; I have heard them spoken of on other autism forums, though I don't know any specific examples, nor whether they would be prepared to counsel such a young client. One thing that I would say is that you should try to determine whether the counsellors have any specific experience with autistic clients. Although I have only had face-to-face counselling, I can vouch that this can make a big difference to how successful the counselling will be. I have had counsellors with no autism experience misinterpret my difficulties quite badly, to the point where it was actually counter-productive rather than helpful. On the other hand, a counsellor with good autism experience can make a world of difference; CBT with such a counsellor has helped me enormously in the past.
Another option you might consider is to lurk around some of the other on-line autism forums to see if you can find one that you'd be comfortable for him to use. This site probably wouldn't be so helpful, as there are few autistic teens here; but there are other sites which accommodate a wide range of ages. If he could find other autistic teens in a similar situation to correspond with on-line, it might help him to realise that he is not so alone with his condition, find some useful advice, learn to express his experiences better, and give him an outlet for some of his frustrations. Naturally, you will probably want to monitor this; if so, do be open about the fact that you're doing it; autistic people can be very sensitive to the idea that they are being "spied" on, so it could lead to problems later if you try to monitor him sneakily and he finds out!
Thanks to both Trogluddite and Cassandro for the thoughtful comments. You both have demonstrated the benefit of working with people who understand what we are dealing with. The school our son is with is considered one of the best, and there are great teachers there.... BUT... they have not seen this as a spectrum related issue, rather a troubled boy with discipline issues and need for support. This gets down, then, to assistance with studying, creating the right consequences, and not digging deeper into cause and effect. The counselors we have seen - three - have also been poorly suited. Two thought it just boiled down to family life and the need for better parenting. In that, I can understand the point of people unsuited potentially doing more harm than good. In part by having had us delay years in figuring out we need to look into his issues further. The third - she just recommended he be assessed - which we didn't do - and pretty much gave up.
I met with the school today, and was directed to a counselor I had not before, who really seemed to get it - that we were diagnosing symptoms rather than causes. Our son is really challenging, and that creates challenges in our family. Stress, arguments, disagreements. We need guidance on what to do, steps we need to take - but the counselors have largely said 'get your parenting together, argue less, agree on consequences, be consistent'. All good advice, but hard to do, when we have a very smart, manipulative and unhappy teen on our hands.
I don't know, based on my talk with the school counselor, whether we will find this here in our expat posting. There really are few options - and we have hit the main ones people recommend. We are looking at going home for a week of vacation, and having our son assessed then. But my wife is concerned with 'and then what'? Why have him assessed in the UK or USA, then have recommendations with regard to support that we can't follow. It is with this in mind that I was wondering about online options, whether we could find someone who can work with our son, and us, to come up with strategies, to help our son reframe and better understand his world, and us better understand where he is at, what we can do to help improve his options, life and future.
Again, thanks to both responders and I welcome any other views and suggestions.