Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment and Therapy

healthy mind sacramento autism spectrum therapy

Autism Spectrum Disorder includes people who have previously been diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s (sometimes known as high-functioning autism), and pervasive developmental disorder.  I work with older children and teens with behavioral and social issues due to autism spectrum disorder. I also work with adults with autism spectrum disorder who feel that their social deficits are impacting work, college, or relationship functioning. At Healthy Mind Sacramento, Autism Spectrum Disorder assessment and therapy are both available. I have experience working with girls/women and am familiar with the diagnostic challenges in this group. I also particularly enjoy working with tweens/ teens and college students.

key traits of individuals on the spectrum

Some people with autism spectrum disorder have speech and language delays, while others do not. Key traits in autistic persons include:

  • Deficits in social- emotional reciprocity. This can be lack of understanding of turn-taking in conversation, trouble reading nonverbals in communication, or trouble adjusting behavior to suit the context.
    • Example: A person on the spectrum may talk to everyone about trains because he loves trains. He may not be able to read nonverbal signals that his listener is not interested in the topic of trains, and keep on talking about trains.
  • Restricted or repetitive interests or patterns of behavior.
    • On the extreme end, some individuals display hand-flapping, repetitively lining up toys, or repeating speech after someone talks. On the less extreme end, a person may be very into computers and do and talk about little else.
  • These traits are present from early development on and disrupt school or social functioning.

Healthy Mind Sacramento autism spectrum disorder assessment

Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)  involves taking a careful developmental history as well as completing an assessment. I am trained in the primary tests used in autism diagnosis. I test both school-age children and adults that are worried about their social- emotional functioning and are concerned they may have ASD.

Healthy Mind Sacramento autism spectrum disorder therapy

Many people with autism had ABA therapy as a young child, but as a tween, teen, or young adult find themselves struggling. Because lack of social awareness and deficits in nonverbal aspects of social skills are core to autism spectrum disorders, this is the focus of treatment. Therapy includes learning about emotions, ways that people express emotions, and how to express emotions in a healthy way. This includes using appropriate facial expressions, tone of voice, and nonverbal signals. Reading other people’s nonverbals is also and important skill we work on.

A second part of therapy, when needed, includes emotion regulation skills. This can include problems with impulse-control, behaving without first thinking, as well as executive functioning.

Theory of mind work is also typically a part of therapy. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder may struggle to take others’ perspective, or consider other people’s point of view or emotions. This becomes increasingly important as an individual ventures out into the world of college or work.

Finally, for parents coming in with their child, parent support and coaching on how to handle difficult behaviors so they do not escalate is included when needed. To find out a little more about my approach to tween/teen therapy, please visit my adolescent/teen therapy page.

If you feel autism spectrum disorder is standing in the way of you or your child’s ability to be successful in relationships and in life, feel free reach out to see if Healthy Mind Sacramento can help.