Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 2 - Page 43

“Helping people come to terms with a spectrum diagnosis will sometimes mean helping them avoid distorted thinking about other people.” ing point for beginning to move away from the negativity. The more you can collaborate and not pull in different directions, the better. If you can mutually establish a more neutral set of reactions to the spectrum diagnosis, you can avoid lapsing into the kind of power struggle dynamic that often makes the goal of acceptance even harder to achieve. Help Clarify This is stating the obvious, but when someone is reluctant to accept a spectrum diagnosis, it’s at least in part because they do not want to feel different. They can see their peers making connections much more easily, and it can be very painful to feel that your differences have pushed those connections out of reach. (It’s not true that these connections are out of reach; autistics can thrive and do extremely well when it comes to forging strong bonds with others, but I know at times it can be hard for some to believe that.) The point is that low self-esteem can create the temptation to idealize the lives of others. Somehow, some way, others are doing things “right,” things you can’t seem to replicate. Helping people come to terms with a spectrum diagnosis will sometimes mean helping them avoid distorted thinking about other people. The goal is to listen not only to how a person describes themselves but also to how they describe other people. If it sounds like they are idealizing others, they are likely self-loathing. To the extent that you can, 43 WHEN IT’S TIME TO GET Self-hatred, idealizing others, anger about a spectrum diagnosis: these can be signs of serious depression. Don’t assume that it’s a phase and that they’ll “get through it.” Find a local mental health professional (preferably one with spectrum experience) and get help if these reactions seem to be reaching an extreme. If you are lost as to where to start, a good place for more information online is the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), which offers a directory of licensed mental health providers that specialize in anxiety disorders, depression and related disorders. They are professional members of ADAA who have chosen to be listed in this database. If you use the advanced search function, you can type in “Autism Spectrum” to find a professional with experience in your area. You can also search by city if you are located outside the U.S. HELP! Zoom Autism Through Many Lenses 43