clinical psychologists with autism.

Discuss applications to the clearing house (and to courses that are not in the clearing house system), screening assessments, interviews, reserve lists, places, etc. here
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clinical psychologists with autism.

Post by tamara » Sat Aug 22, 2020 5:10 pm

I am currently considering applying for the clinical psychology doctorate. I feel that i'm in quiet a strong place clinically but am aware I do not have as much research experience as others but am seeing it as I feel ready and there is nothing to loose.

I was however planning on applying under the disability confident scheme (to my choices that use this). I have a diagnosis of autism (and dyslexia) and it definitely does affect my day to day life. I've developed good strategies for managing this and currently work in a crisis team so am confident that I could manage the doctorate (well as confident as any one can be without actually doing it). It has however affected the jobs I have applied for before and how I did at university and explains the fact that I went to a special needs school not a mainstream which is why I feel I meet the criteria to apply under the scheme.

When I have spoken to clinical psychologists I work alongside (im not supervised by a clin psych) they have warned me not to use the scheme. They have said that in their experience they have found that people do not feel that those with autism can become a clinical psychologist so it might disadvantage me.

I was therefore wondering how people who have selected for dclin before did or would have viewed someone with autism applying. Alternatively I would be really interested to speak to any trainees/qualified people with a diagnosis of autism - feel free to message me if you prefer.

Thanks in advance

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Re: clinical psychologists with autism.

Post by miriam » Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:13 pm

I don't know the answer to your question, but I do know that many more people tick the disabilities box than are offered interviews, so it isn't a guaranteed ticket to that point, and you will still be weighed up against very strong competition. Because of that, I think it might be hard for anyone to distinguish whether there is negative feeling towards their diagnosis, rather than any other reason for being unsuccessful. Although I do remember Lingua Franca being discouraged from a therapeutic career because of something similar.

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Re: clinical psychologists with autism.

Post by lingua_franca » Fri Aug 28, 2020 1:12 am

Hi Tamara,

I've applied for various jobs under the disability confident scheme, but I've never been asked to name my disability as part of the application. All the short-listers and interviewers knew was that I'm disabled, not any details, so preconceptions about autism should not be clouding anyone's view of you at the application stage.

The situation Miriam is referring to happened after I'd started a speech and language therapy degree. I had a fifteen-minute introductory meeting with my assigned tutor, together with the rest of the tutor group, and within twenty minutes of us leaving her office she emailed to say she had "concerns" about my lack of eye contact. "While we can be supportive, we can't lower entry standards for the profession." She asked me to attend a 1:1 meeting with her to discuss the issue, which turned out to be half an hour of her trying to persuade me to leave the course. Here I learnt that my support plan had been circulated among the staff by disabled students' services, without me knowing that a written plan even existed, and this was how she knew about my diagnosis. When I asked her what was in the plan, she laughed and said, "Oh, they're all the same, very generic. I never really read them." Hearing that, I felt that she had decided I shouldn't be there before I even walked into the room, and when she met me she saw only what she had primed herself to see. I'd been through the same competitive interview process as the other students, had substantial relevant work experience with strong references from clinical supervisors, and had passed the occupational health check, so if my fitness to train really were impaired to the point that it was discernible from a fifteen-minute group meeting, I doubt I could have got to that point. At first I thought that it would be OK if I worked hard to prove myself, but the behaviour quickly escalated to overt bullying.

The programme director was very supportive and encouraged me to raise a formal complaint. I chose not to. I had just been offered a job, and as I wasn't far into the SaLT course, I decided to go and do something where I could thrive and feel that my abilities were recognised rather than fight to prove I even met bare minimum standards. I've been working in academia ever since. In retrospect I do wish I'd made that complaint, as it turned out the tutor had a history of targeting disabled students. But it wasn't a fight I had the energy or appetite for at the time, and I think it's important to pick your battles.

While this might sound alarming, bear in mind that she is just one person. Over the years I've worked alongside numerous allied health professionals who have known my diagnosis and who have been nothing but curious, collegial, and encouraging, including CPs. I know one qualified CP and one trainee with an autism diagnosis, and my housemate (also a CP) comments that she's had a few colleagues whom she suspected might be on the spectrum. So it's definitely possible. That said, as a result of my bad experience with the SaLT course I'm cautious about disclosing autism until I feel that people have had a chance to get to know me independently of that label. I never know what to advise for the best when it comes to disclosure. All I can do is share my experiences and hope it helps people to make their own informed choice that fits their circumstances.

Good luck with it all. :)
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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