October 22, 2008

West Virginia Counseling Association and ASD

Several years ago -- perhaps well more than a decade -- I served as part of a team of professionals that provided support to an adolescent diagnosed with Autism. His parents were divorcing, and the team believed the child could benefit from meeting with a counselor. Those on the team felt the child needed the opportunity to express his worries and concerns to a professional therapist who, in turn, could help him through the difficult transition his family was beginning. I called every counselor I knew in the area to make a referral. Each expressed an interest in seeing the child, and offering professional assistance.

Until I mentioned the word "autism."

"I have no expertise in the area," I heard. And "I've never worked with a client diagnosed with autism" was a common answer. Pretty soon, I ran out of people to call.

It was with that child in mind that I eagerly accepted an invitation by Dr. Violette Eash to speak about autism spectrum disorders at the Fall Conference of the West Virginia Counselors Association.

Made up of licensed mental health counselors and graduate students from Marshall University's Counseling program, attendees listened to a discussion titled: Asperger's Disorder: Developing A Therapeutic Relationship, and participated in a discussion about best practice methods of support for individuals on the spectrum.

I was very pleased that the WVCA actively sought out information about how to best support individuals with autism spectrum disorders in a therapeutic relationship. When I arrived at the conference, however, I was thrilled to learn the organization had not one but two presentations devoted to the topic. Tim Vaughn, a licensed professional counselor, provided information on Saturday to attendees of his workshop: New Techniques to Use when Working With People With Asperger’s Disorder.

The difference time can make.

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