Autism Spectrum Disorder: Does Systemic Family Therapy have anything to offer?
The support of the National Disability Insurance Scheme has resulted in more children and their families seeking help following the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. These disorders are defined as lifelong neurodevelopmental conditions which significantly impair everyday functioning with persistent deficits in social communication and interaction, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities.
Sarah Helps, from the Tavistock clinic, suggests that the misalignement between an infant with an atypical neurodevelopmental profile and unexpected responses, and their parent, produces a vicious cycle with the parent acting in more extreme, directive ways attempting to build a relationship with the child which fuels the communication and relationship difficulties.
She contends that this conceptualization is highly congruent with systemic practitioners ‘as they suggest that though therapeutic, relational work, it might be possible to help the parent-and-child, and the family, repair uncomfortable patterns of interacting and develop communicative patterns that feel more socially connected for all involved’. In order to support this position she conducted a systematic review of practice – based evidence about what works with these children. She concludes: ‘It is clear that systemic, narrative approaches hold promise for families where a person has ASC. These interventions work to open up possibilities of thinking, being and relating that have previously become closed down by ASC.’ Good but not unexpected news for family therapists.
Helps,S. (2016) Systemic psychotherapy with families where someone has an autism spectrum condition NeuroRehabilitation 38 223–230
Upcoming workshop – Emotional Dysregulation
“A neuro-political approach to therapy with emotionally & behaviourally dysregulated children, adolescents & families”
A one-day workshop, combining clinical expertise, knowledge and training within the Bower Place Complex Needs Clinic. An opportunity to explore research drawing on live clinical practice.
21st June 2019 – 9.30am to 5pm.
Cost $190 for full day training with Senior Practitioners in the field and Bower Place Directors Catherine Sanders and Malcolm Robinson