Initial Meeting

 

Prior to the meeting:

It can be helpful to find out some information before your first meeting, but we know this is not always possible. If not collected prior to the first meet, then in the first meeting you need to try and find out how you can best support the individual in the time you have with them and how you can work together most effectively. A lot of this information can be collected using our extended communication passport here, or if this extended communication does not suit the needs of the individual, here is the shortened version.

It is essential you start to build rapport with the autistic patient from the start as this can often take some time and our research suggests it can be complicated for both the clinician and the patient. A great place to start with this is acknowledging the individual’s autism and that you will need to work together to ensure treatment will accommodate and support them properly.
 

Information to be looking out for:

Introductions

It is important that you clearly introduce yourself: your name, your role and your expectations from both parties of any clinical encounter you may have. As well as introducing yourself, it is important to ask the individual how they would like you to refer to them, what pronouns they go by and any other information that they feel may be important. It can be helpful to collect this information on a communication passport (here) either before the session or, to build rapport, supporting them in completing it in their first session. This demonstrates to the patient that you want to support them as an individual and to acknowledge their autism.
 

Don’t just assume!

Although you may have asked at the start of treatment and thought you understood someone’s needs, don’t assume you know everything. Check-in every now and then specifically regarding their autism and how you are supporting them. If you made an adaptation- check that it is still helping, or if you need to do something a little different. It can be anxiety provoking knowing that someone has made a change for you and if this is now a hinderance, it may be more anxiety provoking to ask them to stop! This is inline with the ‘camouflaging’ presentation so often seen and the desire to fit in. However, also be prepared to have an autistic person tell you bluntly when something is not working- this information can be added to communication passports to be shared with people who may be supporting them in the future.
 

What can you do in sessions?

 

New diagnosis:

If someone has just recently had an autism diagnosis, they may need support with this. We have compiled a list of resource that the PEACE patients have found useful (found here). It is important to contextualise their rigidity, social experiences and sensory sensitivities. It is also important to convey the benefits of a diagnosis, if these have not been shared already. We want PEACE patients to realise that their autism is their super power and not a negative label. We have found the ‘My World’ worksheet (found here) particularly helpful with newly diagnosed autistic people.

Some benefits:

Contributed by:

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