Counselling families with an autistic child usually involves several key components designed to provide support and guidance to the family. Here’s a sketch of what such a project might look like, as well as detailing some of the project’s components:
1. Assessment of needs and medical history
The first step is to conduct a comprehensive assessment to understand the specific needs of the family and the challenges they face. This assessment involves gathering information about the child’s diagnosis, the child’s strengths and weaknesses, the family’s goals and difficulties, and current support systems. Aspects such as:
2. Establishing objectives
Once the needs assessment is completed, the counsellor works with the family to set clear and realistic goals. These objectives may include:
• The counsellor educates the family about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and helps them understand its impact on the child’s behaviour, learning, and development. Psycho-education also involves providing information about evidence-based practices, available resources, and strategies that can be implemented at home and in other settings.
• Definition and manifestation: Autism is a developmental disorder of neurobiological origin characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction, as well as by repetitive behaviours. In autism, three areas of development are affected:
o Social ommunication – difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication: cannot understand the meaning of some words or expressions, cannot understand certain gestures or tone of voice
o Social imagination – has difficulties in developing social play, carrying out very limited, repetitive imaginative activities and rigid behaviour
o Social relations – difficulties in establishing relations with those around, having a tendency to isolate due to the fact that he fails to communicate and understand those with whom he interacts
What does autism look like? The child with autism:
Diversity: The term autism includes a wide spectrum of characteristics and each child is unique. It is likely that the same characteristics are not at the same level as other children they have read or will read about. So parents must be helped to understand that:
4. Counselling Sessions
The counsellor conducts regular counselling sessions with the family to provide emotional support, address their concerns and help them navigate the challenges associated with raising a child with autism. These sessions can focus on managing stress, promoting positive family dynamics, and promoting self-care for parents.
Interaction with parents can often be marked by confusion, dissatisfaction, anger, disappointment. Understanding the stages that parents can go through, follows the stages of grief from shock, mistrust of the diagnosis and the search for other specialists in the hope of invalidating the diagnosis, to denial, anger/desperation/bargaining, fear, blaming others, blaming fate, self-blame, depression, resignation, acceptance, struggle.
In the view of Hardman, Drew & Egan (1996) (apud Laura Elena Nastasa – Counselor for the family at an impasse) the parents of the child or adolescent with disabilities can go through:
Aspects such as:
5. Individualized treatment plan
Based on the identified objectives, the counsellor develops an individualized treatment plan, adapted to the unique needs of the child and family circumstances. The plan may include a combination of therapies, interventions, and strategies to address the child’s specific challenges. There are several strategies to address in order to recover the child: ABA therapy, physical therapy, Sensory Synchronization Therapy, Socialization, speech therapy. The success of the therapy depends on 4 factors:
5. Parent Training:
Parents play a crucial role in supporting their child’s development. The counsellor provides parents with training sessions to improve their understanding of autism, teach effective parenting techniques, and help them acquire skills to meet their child’s unique needs. This training empowers parents to implement strategies and interventions outside of therapy sessions.
Some training ideas shape around behaviour at home, motivation, evaluation, celebration of new skills, individual work at home. Additional information available at Overview of reinforcement techniques in ABA approach (Applied behavior analysis) for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and List of psycho-education brochures
• Nastasa L.E. & Colab, (2017), Counselling the family at an impasse, Bucharest, Libris Publishing House
• Vermeulen P., (2000), I am special. A Workbook to Help Children, Teens and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders to Understand their Diagnosis, Gain Confidence and Thrive, Jessica Kingsley Publishers London and Philadelphia
Master Certified Coach & Therapist
Building future globally! I am fascinated by human beings and their psychology and dedicate my life to bettering their capabilities and those of the organizations they are in. The first step starts with you and if I can support and empower you to take one step further in your growth, then my mission as a coach is fulfilled. Building self every day is the single meaning of life!
“Camelia is an EXCELLENT executive COACH! She has a very gentle and encouraging approach that helps create trustful relationship. I loved working with her. Thank you Camelia!” – Anastasia K.