Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

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muggles
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Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by muggles » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:48 am

Hi all

I hope this is the right place to ask this - i will try and keep it short.

I have a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome (all be it mild), and I am also very keen to mental health, in particular, Clinical Psychology. I know on the face of it, Clinical Psychology might seem like the worst profession for someone with AS! However, I have felt drawn to it for a long time, and believe i am capable of doing, despite the difficulties inherent to AS.

I am applying this autumn to join the 2012 cohort (I am an undergrad, so not expecting to get in - doing it for the experience). I have done a lot of summer work 2 years running as an assistant psych with a private practice clinical psychologist. She gave me a chance at clinical work (sitting in/conducting supervised therapy, discussing clients and courses of action, conducting/scoring/reporting WISC/WIATs, etc) and she now feels that while the course may present a few extra challenges for me, i am capable of being a clinical psychologist, despite my AS.

However, she was discussing me with several other clinical psychologists, who were very surprised she had taken me on, and more so that she was saying i could do the course. She has said that she is willing to be my clinical experience referee and say in it that she believes i am capable of the course, but i am rather worried people will see "AS" in the application and assume, as her friends did, that i am not capable

My first question is simply: am I legally obliged to disclose my Aspergers Syndrome on my application?

Second, I have done a lot of work in the Autism field (delivering Teacher training, lecturing parents/professionals, campaigning with the National Autistic Society, had a book published). While it is not direct "clinical experience", this could add an extra dimension to my application in the Background Info section of the application. If i disclose my AS in the disabilities section of the form (which is not used as part of my application), should I also put this information in the background info section (which is), or would it count against me?

I would appreciate your thoughts.

Many thanks

eastofnorth
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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by eastofnorth » Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:38 am

My thoughts are: the world is a spectrum. For every one diagnosis, there are dozens of similar people without that label. Knowing yourself is the best possible preparation for therapeutic work and puts you leagues ahead of others who have not examined themselves so thoroughly.

I am curious to see why these clinical psychologists are so negative. Do you know the specifics of their concerns?
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." ~ Henry David Thoreau

muggles
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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by muggles » Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:20 am

Hi

Thanks for replying. I definitely, agree, the world is a spectrum!

I their main concerns were my ability to pick up on emotions/non verbal body language, and my skill at Theory of Mind. They think I can't put myself in others shoes, imagine what they are feeling, pick up on body language, etc. I do see their point, I know a lot of people with AS who may have many abilities, but not the ones necessary for clinical psychology. The "stereotype" of AS is not exactly one you would think of for clinical psychology.

I can do the emotion/theory of mind/body language stuff, it just takes me a little bit longer. I have to think about it, rather than do it on instinct. I think a good example happened a few days ago. We were discussing a client (who I had not met), who just got a 2:1 at uni. When the Clinical Psychologist I was working with said this, she was instantly very happy about it, as she knew how tough things were for him, and so a 2:1 for him was really good. It took me half a second to register how happy she was, and another half second to think: uni was hard for him, he had lots of trouble --> so a 2:1 will be something he should be really pleased about (as opposed to feeling bad because he should have got a 1st).

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miriam
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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by miriam » Sun Jul 24, 2011 1:42 pm

You might want to use the search function because we have discussed this topic before.

But I can start off with answering the simple part of your question: do you have to declare your AS on the application? The answer to that is that you need to disclose it to occupational health, but not necessarily on the application. If you do disclose it on the application it would merely be because you chose to, either as additional information about yourself which you have reflected on, or to access the two ticks scheme to increase your chance of interview. There is no 'obligation' to share a diagnosis outside of occupational health, and that is a confidential service designed to support you in the job role, rather than the place any lack of intuitive social skills would be considered.

The challenge will be that interviews deliberately create a stressful and fast-paced situation and then the panels judge not only what you know but also your social skills and reflective capacity as shown in that situation. This might be quite tricky if you need longer and use a more logical and less intuitive strategy.

I'm wondering about the actual job of being a CP though. The whole thing seems very bound up in being able to capture the unspoken and subtle feelings which happen in therapy, in teams, in ourselves, to explore what constructs/beliefs other people hold and how those stories help or hinder them in their life, and also to explore the metacogntive world of helping people to identify, analyse, challenge and change the ways that they are thinking and relating to others, which involves very subtle theory of mind indeed. I'm not sure that the experience of being able to cope in a structured and supervised AP role is reflective of being able to do CP as a whole. However, I am thinking that you might be excellent at asking logical and neutral socratic questions!

So it is very hard to judge without meeting someone and seeing their work. However, in a very competitive field you might be [tries to avoid metaphors] making a difficult task even more difficult by not playing to your own strengths.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by trainee123 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:11 pm

Hi muggles. This is more a reassurance than anything else. I think there are other trainees and qualifieds out there who would agree that there are plenty practicing psychologists who may not have a diagnosis of AS (or declare one) but who most certainly do have strong AS characteristics! Like you say, everything is on a spectrum, and again there are plenty psychologists out there on other spectrums, especially PD types! The fact that you recognise that certain aspects of training may be difficult for you is a considerable strength and something that many applicants don't consider. Of course it will be a challenge but the fact that you have worked clinically with a CP and you are being encouraged to apply speaks volumes to me about your capabilities. It's also important to remember that the role of a CP is drastically different between different subject areas. Maybe you'll find that you're really good at neuro, or child or LD but find adult more difficult (just examples). But that's okay! That just makes you human. Like the rest of us. There are areas of psychology I know I'm not very good at and won't be able to work in for various reasons but there are a couple other thankfully where I think I'll do just fine. Keep up the reflection and good luck with the training, you'll get on when the time is right.

muggles
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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by muggles » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:28 pm

Thank you for your replys, they have made very interesting reading

Miriam, I do agree, that I am trying to do this with one hand behind my back, and it will be more of a challenge to get onto the course, and to practice. However, I have never been one to shy away from a challenge, and i think that AS also also gives me a few pros to make up for this.

In my (admittedly limited) experience as an AP, I do well at trying to work out how people think, why they think that way, etc. I can find the patterns in someones thinking, the way their beliefs work and interact with each other, which i can then use. That in itself is a structure, which I can tap into and use. That cognitive/behavioral element seems to be generally ok. Equally, i do well at more structured stuff like Psychometrics, CBT, and (as you suggested) asking the logical/neutral Socratic questions. The harder aspect for me is the emotional aspect. I can pick up on medium/large non-verbal cues, but the smaller ones, require me to know them better. Equally, predicting how someone felt/will feel is harder for me. I tend to have to rely more on the response to "how did that make you feel", than my CP does. still pick up medium/large changes, but the smaller ones require me getting to know them more.


Trainee123, thank you, that is very reassuring, hopefully i wont be the only one! I think you are right about finding areas of specialty. In general, i have found working with children and adolescents easier (maybe because their emotions are easier to read?), and there are defiantly aspects of therapy that i find easier than others. That said, it is still early days, and i have a lot to learn! Thank you for your encouragement - it is very appreciated!

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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by hanbur » Sun Jul 24, 2011 5:46 pm

Hi there

I feel the need to preface my answer with this: I am not a qualified CP. Nor am i an expert on AS.

There are, however, plenty of us out there who like you worried about disclosing our disabilities prior to application (myself included). We all deal with this differently. Personally i disclosed, but felt it was important that I was able to give evidence that I could manage my difficulties. I see no reason why, with appropriate coping stratergies in place you would not be able to excel at a course. In fact perhaps you could turn your AS to your advanage? Being able to talk for instance from a service user perspective (I am dyslexic and dyspraxic and have had assesments through out my life for these) has been a big advantage for me, as has having some saught of idea what my clients might be expereienceing (all be it very watered down) when working in a Learning Disabilities Service. In fact I even spoke about this at the CP interview!

I would say cultivate and reflect on your strengths and resilances. Be sensible but dont listen to those who are afraid of difference and progress. You know your limitations and abilities and that is what matters.

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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by noodle » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:55 pm

I'm not really sure that I have anything to add but I just wanted to say that you appear to be very reflective about your own abilities and the process that has allowed you to develop certain skills, which I'm sure will be a very valuable asset for working in this profession. I also found it interesting when you said the following:
muggles wrote: Equally, predicting how someone felt/will feel is harder for me. I tend to have to rely more on the response to "how did that make you feel", than my CP does. still pick up medium/large changes, but the smaller ones require me getting to know them more.
It made me think that actually in many instances 'checking in' with how a person is feeling about a cetain thing (rather than assuming) is hugely important and I know that I, for one need to make sure I'm doing plenty of this! :)

Good luck!

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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by blan09 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:30 am

I am very encouraged reading this discussion thread, as I got my formal AS diagnosis only last year, being 41 and I am applying to DClinPsy training this year. I went for interview once already few years ago, but did not get a place at that time. And I used to work as Child Psychologist in different country already. Very encouraging and inspiring to read this discussion. Thank you!

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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by Psych4Life » Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:56 pm

I have good insight into AS as an experienced support worker of both low and high-functioning individuals alike for over 5 years. Reading psychology texts about autism can be misleading when judging the clinical aptitude of individuals with high-functioning/Aspergers' syndrome. You would get the impression (if you read Cohen and co) that people with Aspergers' Syndrome have profound deficits in empathy and relating to others. While this might be true for classic cases this perspective is less applicable to individuals with AS / HFA. In my tenure, I have encountered several individuals whom I know have AS / HFA and their capacity for empathy is on par (if not better) than individuals who are neurotypical although they may come across slightly geeky (in a polite way).

This observation sounds counter-intuitive to the current research paradigm but this is what I have honestly experienced (No offense to Baron-Cohen intended). I know of one person who has AS who is a professional life coach, sports instructor and speaks freely with minimal difficulty and regularly socialises and university. He is not an isolated case either. Some individuals with AS have demonstrated to me strong views of fairness, patience and awareness of the "social rules". It is also my opinion that individuals with AS may also be less susceptible to cognitive-emotional reasoning biases. Combined with strong analytical skills (when applied in a social science context) any perceived deficits in reading the superficial emotional / mental states and intentions of others can be compensated with the use of strong intuitive and logical reasoning abilities. CBT is one such example of a therapy which appears to AS-friendly for Asperger clinicians as it emphasizes critical thinking, problem solving and socratic reasoning whilst also favouring an objective approach.

Of course, not everyone with autism is fortunate to have above average intelligence or have preserved social abilities. As it is spectrum; there are those who are very much theory of mind blind, whereas, others are adequately adept at social conversation and present no significant theory of mind deficits at all. These individuals may rely on a "stoic" mode of thought moreso than an emotional one but this does not imply an absence of ability to engage with service users on an emotional and empathic level. In fact, taking an objective stance is recommended in conventional clinical settings. The AS cognitive style might not be so bad after all.

I have noticed that there are some double standards in my encounters of clinical research papers on autism. Students are drummed in undergraduate degrees that kids with autism lack empathy, but when you think about it critically from a systemic point of view, you acknowledge that a kid's preference for social withdrawal may in fact be a reactive consequential behaviour in response to taunts from socially apt bullies. This combined with delayed social brain development leads to further withdrawal and problems with socialisation. There is however no evidence to suggest that individuals with autism are any less capable of understanding moral and social concepts especially when given the chance to learn and apply these skills within a supportive learning environment.

I'm going a little off-topic here, but I would see no harm in disclosing it because a) psychology is one of the most forgiving (if not the best) discipline which actively encourages equality in the workplace and b) BPS actively campaigns for greater representation of people from all backgrounds, colours, sex and disabilities. In fact I think disclosing would work in your favour (provided you demonstrate professional competence and evidence of insight into one's own disability)

Don't let the labels get the better of you (also to any readers here, don't blindingly accept what is written in a psychology textbook as absolute fact).

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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by miriam » Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:31 pm

Sorry, but I think that is a bit of a misleading post. The very diagnostic criteria for all the autistic spectrum conditions is that there is a relative social skills deficit, and all the studies show delays in theory of mind. I've worked with assessing ASC for over a decade (I've diagnosed around 500 children), written my undergrad dissertation, a literature review and doctoral thesis on the topic, and I've yet to see one example of a person with ASC with 'empathy and theory of mind intact' - if it is, then ASC are the wrong diagnosis. That isn't disrespectful of people on the spectrum to acknowledge; I've met plenty of lovely people with ASC, and I've wished the world were more empathic to the ASC way of seeing things, but it makes no sense to claim that the very differentiating characteristic of a particular group is not present.

To have an understanding of the theory of fairness and the rules of society is not the same as having the social judgement to know when it would be popular or sensible to apply these or not. Similarly, to be able to apply logic to reach an understanding of how another person might be feeling takes much more time than intuitively picking up the pattern of subtle cues for this in real time. Both empathy and ToM are relative deficits, not a total absence, so they will obviously be more evident in brighter, older, more subtly impaired people on the spectrum, but if impairment in these areas was not present then the person would be above the diagnostic threshold for the diagnostic label.
There is however no evidence to suggest that individuals with autism are any less capable of understanding moral and social concepts especially when given the chance to learn and apply these skills within a supportive learning environment.
There are loads of studies showing how taught social skills do not generalise well to real-life situations for people with ASC, and that these are areas of relative deficit. You will need to reference your sources if you think what you have stated is a fact. I might be slightly out of date, but I doubt I'd have missed a revolution that changed the core triad of impairments!
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

Psych4Life
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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by Psych4Life » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:05 pm

miriam wrote:Sorry, but I think that is a bit of a misleading post. The very diagnostic criteria for all the autistic spectrum conditions is that there is a relative social skills deficit, and all the studies show delays in theory of mind. I've worked with assessing ASC for over a decade (I've diagnosed around 500 children), written my undergrad dissertation, a literature review and doctoral thesis on the topic, and I've yet to see one example of a person with ASC with 'empathy and theory of mind intact' - if it is, then ASC are the wrong diagnosis. That isn't disrespectful of people on the spectrum to acknowledge; I've met plenty of lovely people with ASC, and I've wished the world were more empathic to the ASC way of seeing things, but it makes no sense to claim that the very differentiating characteristic of a particular group is not present.

To have an understanding of the theory of fairness and the rules of society is not the same as having the social judgement to know when it would be popular or sensible to apply these or not. Similarly, to be able to apply logic to reach an understanding of how another person might be feeling takes much more time than intuitively picking up the pattern of subtle cues for this in real time. Both empathy and ToM are relative deficits, not a total absence, so they will obviously be more evident in brighter, older, more subtly impaired people on the spectrum, but if impairment in these areas was not present then the person would be above the diagnostic threshold for the diagnostic label.
There is however no evidence to suggest that individuals with autism are any less capable of understanding moral and social concepts especially when given the chance to learn and apply these skills within a supportive learning environment.
There are loads of studies showing how taught social skills do not generalise well to real-life situations for people with ASC, and that these are areas of relative deficit. You will need to reference your sources if you think what you have stated is a fact. I might be slightly out of date, but I doubt I'd have missed a revolution that changed the core triad of impairments!
Hi Miriam,

I won't go into exhaustive detail but please read below. I have enclosed some links for you to browse should you wish to understand my position further. I do not state what I have said to be fact but only opinion which also includes both my experience and academic understanding of the subject matter.

The issue of autism and empathy has been a contentious subject. I do feel I have good reason to believe that the current E/S paradigm has some fundamental flaws and I am not alone in thinking this. Not saying that the model itself is completely untrue but even Baron Cohen's own position has shifted in light of skepticism from AS advocates.

The Autism / Aspergers' community have been critical of SBC and those who follow his line of reasoning. Skepticism has come from several people who identify as having AS who perceive that their empathic capabilities have been misunderstood and/or misrepresented by the scientific community http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt168510.html. This is not the only thread by any stretch but it does show that the beliefs about empathy in autism have been met with controversy within the autistic community.

Moving away from Forums; There have been detailed and highly articulate critiques of the assumptions of SBC's E/S theory. I am going to highlight a website which publishes articles, essays and discussions addressing this topic. http://www.autismandempathy.com/ . One such letter (written by female with Aspergers) received a response from SBC http://www.journeyswithautism.com/2009/ ... -s-theory/ . Another person here summarizes the dialogue between Rachel and Simon Baron-Cohen and provides a critique of his own. He also highlights that the original response to SBC's theory previously stated that SBC believed that there was deficiency in both cognitive and affective empathy in AS. Simon has subsequently been forced to concede his original position and admits he was wrong about affective empathy in autism (in Zero Degrees of Empathy vs. Science of evil).

Bare in mind that there are probably fewer people with AS in the psychology discipline and that contrarian studies (from an autistic perspective) are limited but this does not mean anecdotal voices from the AS community should be ignored.

Empirical research findings: There is evidence which suggests that empathy in autism has been misunderstood and that the measure originally designed to measure empathy in autism is in fact inadequate and misleading as it does not measure the construct accurately (Gillberg, 1992; Roeyers et al., 2001). This is because the EQ (Empathy quotient) and ToM tasks (Sally-Anne, Faux-pax test) constructed by SBC only measure the construct of "cognitive empathy" and not "affective empathy". Yet the continued promotion of this EQ measure by SBC is in direct contradiction with SBC's revised claim comparing cognitive and affective empathic profiles of sociopaths and people with autism (sociopaths = high CE, low AE, AS = Low CE, Low AE). The problem with this approach is that observer bias, errors and false conclusions are inevitably drawn from the use of an inadequate and invalid measure which does not sufficiently measure the construct appropriately.

Furthermore, the conflation of ToM deficits and assumptions of diminished empathy in AS fails to address the number of studies which have not supported assumptions by SBC's E/S theory. These studies have been subsequently dismissed by those advocating the dominant theoretical paradigm (E/S theory). One such empirical study calls for a revision of our understanding of empathy in autism.

http://www.cog.psy.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/p ... Disord.pdf
Abstract A deficit in empathy has consistently been
cited as a central characteristic of Asperger syndrome
(AS), but previous research on adults has predominantly
focused on cognitive empathy, effectively
ignoring the role of affective empathy. We administered
the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), a multidimensional
measure of empathy, and the Strange
Stories test to 21 adults with AS and 21 matched
controls. Our data show that while the AS group
scored lower on the measures of cognitive empathy
and theory of mind, they were no different from
controls on one affective empathy scale of the IRI
(empathic concern), and scored higher than controls on
the other (personal distress). Therefore, we propose
that the issue of empathy in AS should be revisited.

My own opinion:
I concede that as a general principle; people with AS are less likely to engage in emotional reciprocation (mirroring) and have additional difficulties with expressing or describing their internal affective states (which can in turn lead to the perception that the person is "cold" or "unemotional"). I accept that Individuals with AS are also less likely to pick up on socially sensitive cues (e.g. body language, micro-expressions) and respond in a "socially desirable" way (by normative standards) which would be deemed as empathic behaviour. What I do not however accept (as an Aspie myself) is that this reluctance to express emotions and respond to socially-relevant emotional cues is evidence of diminished empathy in autism. Rather, I believe that this evidence of deficits in externalised (pro-social) empathic behaviour. This is not the same as a lack of empathy per se. Said individuals are more likely to internalize emotional distress and deal with empathy in a different manner to an NT and there is strong evidence to suggest that individuals with AS are hypersensitive to antisocial social behaviours in the social environment.

In summary, either the universal concept of "empathy" has to be revised or replaced with a better fitting terminology in order to avoid confusion. Otherwise, the wider autistic community would be distrustful of the psychology discipline for failing to understand their POV.

Miriam: I don't deny your professional experience or academic aptitude. I do wonder however if observations of children are an appropriate assessment of empathy in individuals with AS once they have grown up. Understanding empathy is as much dependent on experiential learning as it is innate behaviours. It could be that once the subtle nuances of socialising are formally taught and if the individual formally learns to recognise these cues than one may see more pro-social and mirroring behaviours emerging.

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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by Borrowed Cone » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:32 pm

Psych4Life wrote: My own opinion:
I concede that as a general principle; people with AS are less likely to engage in emotional reciprocation (mirroring) and have additional difficulties with expressing or describing their internal affective states (which can in turn lead to the perception that the person is "cold" or "unemotional"). I accept that Individuals with AS are also less likely to pick up on socially sensitive cues (e.g. body language, micro-expressions) and respond in a "socially desirable" way (by normative standards) which would be deemed as empathic behaviour. What I do not however accept (as an Aspie myself) is that this reluctance to express emotions and respond to socially-relevant emotional cues is evidence of diminished empathy in autism. Rather, I believe that this evidence of deficits in externalised (pro-social) empathic behaviour. This is not the same as a lack of empathy per se. Said individuals are more likely to internalize emotional distress and deal with empathy in a different manner to an NT and there is strong evidence to suggest that individuals with AS are hypersensitive to antisocial social behaviours in the social environment.
I think you're missing the point a bit. Regardless of whether you consider it a lack of "empathy" or not (however you choose to define it), if a person, for whatever reason, is less able to pick up on social cues, or respond in a "socially desirable" way, then it might make it extremely difficult to fulfill the role and functions of a psychologist, who needs to be able to respond to conscious and non-conscious cues of a client and manage the dynamics and expectations of the teams in which they work. It would be extremely difficult to do this in a non-socially desirable way, or by dealing with empathy in a "different way to an NT". The main reason being that so much of the work is dependent on being able to respond appropriately to the emotional needs of a client (and teams, for that matter). Based on our current empirical understanding of autistic spectrum conditions, if one is able to demonstrate these abilities, then one would not fulfill the criteria for an official "diagnosis" of an ASC. Identifying with a particular condition is a different matter.

Furthermore, if those people with AS are hypersensitive to antisocial behaviours, that with further compound the difficulties of working with clients as an applied psychologist where you are likely to encounter such behaviours.

In short: the discussions about how people with AS are able to process/express empathy is a different argument to whether they would find it difficult to be a psychologist.


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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by BenJMan » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:49 am

There is of course an interesting line of discussion about experiences of current clinical psychologists and trainees and whether they necessarily fulfil the criteria of being 'adequately' responsive and empathic.. These are things which are easy to describe in an interview with a bit of prep but hard to actually test out.
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Re: Applying with Aspergers Syndrome

Post by Psych4Life » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:30 pm

Borrowed Cone wrote: I think you're missing the point a bit. Regardless of whether you consider it a lack of "empathy" or not (however you choose to define it), if a person, for whatever reason, is less able to pick up on social cues, or respond in a "socially desirable" way, then it might make it extremely difficult to fulfill the role and functions of a psychologist, who needs to be able to respond to conscious and non-conscious cues of a client and manage the dynamics and expectations of the teams in which they work. It would be extremely difficult to do this in a non-socially desirable way, or by dealing with empathy in a "different way to an NT". The main reason being that so much of the work is dependent on being able to respond appropriately to the emotional needs of a client (and teams, for that matter). Based on our current empirical understanding of autistic spectrum conditions, if one is able to demonstrate these abilities, then one would not fulfill the criteria for an official "diagnosis" of an ASC. Identifying with a particular condition is a different matter.

Furthermore, if those people with AS are hypersensitive to antisocial behaviours, that with further compound the difficulties of working with clients as an applied psychologist where you are likely to encounter such behaviours.

In short: the discussions about how people with AS are able to process/express empathy is a different argument to whether they would find it difficult to be a psychologist.


The Cone
Hi Cone,

I myself am capable of both cognitive and affective empathy but growing up socialising was difficult (difficulties expressing language fluently and engaging in small talk). With regards to my own diagnosis, I was diagnosed by several prominent psychologists from the ages of 4-6 and would disagree with your assumption that I would not fall under the remit of ASC. I found it hard to relate to others in primary and secondary school not because I was unwilling to relate, but rather, my ASC meant I was vulnerable to deceptive behaviours by NT's and my introverted behaviours and quirky personality singled myself out from others who more readily formed themselves into groups than I did. I did not engage in bullying with others and no-one taught me to empathise, this came only after self-realisation that I was somehow different from others and I set about overcoming these difficulties.

Fast-forward to A levels and university, I no longer had any of these problems and was regularly socialising and going to parties. I even had several girlfriends and by experience and determination learned to read others' behaviour effectively. It also helped that my interests at the time were in Psychology and Sociology and that I was very much interested in working out "social systems" and human behaviour. I still have obsessive interests and routines but I would not say my disability has completely disappeared rather I have learned to overcome these limitations.

I have underlined some of your text not because I am a pedant, but your choice of words imply certain stereotypical and limited beliefs about individuals with AS which I feel only further perpetuates myths about people with an ASC who may in fact have very strong skills once they transition into adulthood.

I believe much of the social skill-sets involved in empathy and detecting deception are ontologically dependent and also dependent on architectural constraints of the developing brain of that particularly individual. Low functioning cases on one hand may be stuck with regards with extent to empathise but I've witnessed said individuals display high empathy towards animals and a few select person. As a balanced analysis, I of course have encountered other service users who are firmly fixed in a largely egocentric, selfish view of the world. What I am saying is I don't believe it is a core symptom of AS because not everyone who falls within the remit of AS has those deficit. Not everyone with AS has Alexithymia; or significant sensory processing problems or ToM deficits. They may have elements of some of these deficits which have been associated with AS but it is not the fault of people with AS that the existing models as they stand do not conform to the reality of high-functioning individuals with this diagnosis.

I assume that the OP is literate, academically competent and self-aware to a degree and may not be burdened by this barrier as evidenced by their listed experience. The OP also comments:
However, she was discussing me with several other clinical psychologists, who were very surprised she had taken me on, and more so that she was saying i could do the course. She has said that she is willing to be my clinical experience referee and say in it that she believes i am capable of the course, but i am rather worried people will see "AS" in the application and assume, as her friends did, that i am not capable
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The OP is more concerned about the perception of being deemed incapable by other psychologists whom may be reviewing the application moreso concerned about their own competency and skill set for becoming a psychologist. Granted, it is probably rarer for someone with AS to want to pursue psychology and rarer that those with an ASC would make it on to post-graduate study but those who do know what they are getting themselves into and have a reasonable understanding of their own diagnosis to make an informed decision with regards to their own aptitude. The OP's story about other clinical psychologists dismissing the merits of the individual highlights that there are still practitioners who hold prejudiced views about individuals with AS. I'm not going to generalise here as this might be an isolated case... However, if we assume that this was a default position of some or most NT clinical psychologists than I am very concerned that the psychology discipline misunderstanding individuals with an ASC and wonder about the impact of these stereotyped beliefs (Not saying psychologists don't mean well). However, ingrained beliefs derived from academic textbooks (as opposed to direct experience) about AS only further alienates those with a diagnosis and those without.

This may be a thorny issue for clinical psychologists to deal with... How to balance the role of being a CP and providing a correct diagnosis and at the same time accommodating a significant minority (or majority however you look at it) who do not fit the standard models.

I wish we moved away from dichotomous thinking with regards to autism and understand that ASC is a multi-dimensional disability. I'm reminded of Karl Popper's "Black Swan" falsification analogy.

Anyway, this is a topic I feel strongly about and know that not everyone may share my beliefs. I do feel there are significant gaps in empirical research assessing longitudinal cases and an overall over-reliance of clinical populations whereas high-functioning cases are conveniently ignored or dismissed.

See Rachel's Rebuttal to SBC (It's an excellent read and deconstruction of false assumptions)
http://autismblogsdirectory.blogspot.co ... ntial.html

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