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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My First Day Of DBT

For no real reason, here's a picture of me looking at a turtle!
Hi everyone! Today I had my first group session of DBT. In case you didn't read the entry where I mentioned it, or don't remember, DBT is a type of therapy that helps people learn things like mindfulness, interpersonal relationships, dealing with stress, and emotional regulation. It was originally started to help people with Borderline Personality Disorder, but now therapists use it to help people with a lot of different issues.

I had read somewhere a long time ago about DBT.  I had gone to regular "talk therapy" many times before, and I found that it never worked well for me. Usually what would happen would be I'd go there, and sit around with the therapist telling them about all of the things that were going on in my life. (At certain points in time, depending on who I lived with at the time, my life was pretty chaotic!) Then we'd talk about how I felt about what was going in. Occasionally one of the therapists would try to teach me some sort of relaxation meditation. Usually, by the end, I just felt like I had entertained the therapist for an hour. And it never really helped me. The first therapy that actually helped me was equine therapy, when I was in Chicago.

The reason I thought it would be good for me is because it is really structured, and teaches you very specific skills. It is almost like a class. You learn about one skill at a time, and you have homework each week. You have to keep a chart about your moods and whether you tried to use the skills you've been learning. At the same time as you are going to weekly group sessions, you are also going to weekly 1:1 sessions with a therapist. So it is pretty intensive.

It took me a while to find a place around here that had DBT. There are two places in Portland that specialize in DBT, but one had a really long waiting list and the other never called me back. I contacted one other place, and the lady emailed me back saying she was a little dubious because she'd never worked with someone with autism, and she'd had poor results trying DBT with people with ADHD.

So I found this place in Portland, and I had an intake with the therapist last week. She was also dubious about working with me, because of my autism. She said she was afraid that she might end up pushing me into to do things that I really wasn't capable of doing, whereas a non-autistic person would be capable of doing if they worked at it enough. I told her that, even if some of DBT doesn't work for me, at least a little bit of it will help me. So she said I could try it!

Anyways today was my first session. It was pretty much an orientation session where we got a workbook and learned about the diary card and everything. (The diary card is a sheet of paper they give us where you keep track of your moods and what skills you're using, and then you hand it in at the next session.) 

One of the things we learned about was the Biosocial Theory. The way it was explained to me is that some people are just born more emotionally sensitive than others. The therapist talked about a study someone did where a nurse would walk into a room full of newborn babies, and drop some sort of metal tool. Some of the babies would barely react at all. Those were the babies who would probably grow up to be not very emotionally sensitive. Some of the babies would open their eyes, or start to cry a little but soothe themselves. Those were the babies who were more in the middle of the spectrum of emotional sensitivity... they were sensitive, but they could deal with it. And then there were some babies who would wake up and be screaming their heads off, and would not stop crying until someone had held them and jostled them and comforted them for a long time. Those were the babies who would probably grow up to be the most emotionally sensitive.

The therapist also talked about what happened when very emotionally sensitive children ended up with one or two non-sensitive parents. The parents would not have any idea of where the child was coming from, so they'd probably discourage the child from being emotional, ignore his emotional reactions, shame him for being too emotional, etc. Because non-sensitive parents would have always been able to regulate their emotions naturally, they would have no way of teaching that to a child to whom it didn't come naturally.

We got a handout that described emotionally sensitive people like this:
They are more sensitive to emotional stimuli and can detect subtle emotional information in the environment that others don't even notice.
They experience emotions much more often than others do.
Their emotions seem to sometimes come out of the blue.
They have more intense emotions than others.
Their emotions hit like a ton of bricks.

Their emotions are long-lasting.
Their moods get in the way of organizing to achieve their goals.
They cannot control behaviors linked to their moods.

I think that describes me very well!

I guess this is sort of an experiment to see if DBT can work well with an adult with "High Functioning" Autism. I think it might not work as well with people who have more language processing problems than I do, because there is a ton of reading, writing and talking involved. Luckily for me, I am great at reading and writing. So this just might work! I will keep you all posted.

In the mean time, I am so tired today... I don't know why, because I slept in kind of late. Auntie Em and Uncle J are on vacation, so Lily and I are guarding the house. (But don't try to come and rob us, because we also have our friends who are huge rottweilers staying here with us, and they are very protective of us!) It is sort of lonely and quiet! I have my computer, plus the 12 books I checked out from the library the other day, so I am not really bored... but definitely lonesome!

I guess I'll go read some other blogs now that I have gobs of time on my hands. TTYL!


1 comment :

  1. You're probably tired because that was a LOT to take in!
    I am just writing a post about discovering that others - like my daughter - are NOT sensitive in the ways described above...BIG surprise as I assumed everybody was "like me" and I was just weak and lame because I couldn't "master" it!
    Thanks for the post and good luck!

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