Jane is 25 years old and has Asperger syndrome. She lives with her parents and is self-employed. She is a trained horticulturalist and maintains local gardens for family friends and neighbours: this suits her well. Jane is generally a sociable and friendly person. However she often finds the intentions of other people hard to understand and she can become very upset and anxious when this happens. She prefers to think in literal and concrete terms:
‘If it’s black and white, I can understand it; I just get lost in the grey.’
Jane has regular meetings with her psychologist Deirdre who, over time, has developed a good relationship with her. Since getting to know Jane, Deirdre has taken a specific interest in approaches that suit adults on the autism spectrum and she works with Jane in ways that are tailored to her needs and quite unusual.
- Deirdre uses a whiteboard during sessions to explain key points in visual ways. Deirdre encourages Jane to use the whiteboard too. After sessions, diagrams and notes are copied down. Jane takes this away to refer to at home.
- Deirdre attends Jane’s review meetings, which take place at her home. Deirdre has found that Jane sometimes articulates an anxiety but finds it difficult to explain how this anxiety evolved. By attending review meetings and talking to other people who know Jane well, Deirdre has found that many anxieties are rooted in one specific incident, often seemingly trivial and from a long time in the past. This knowledge has helped her to develop suitable strategies to use with Jane.
- With Jane’s explicit permission, Deirdre shares selected information with Jane’s parents and mentor. This something that Deirdre would never usually do with an adult client. However, if everyone involved in Jane’s support has similar information, they can be consistent in their approach, giving Jane more of the ‘black and white’ that she finds helpful.
Back to top