Therapists Should Write More Stuff Down

People on the autism spectrum are often visual thinkers. While some people on the spectrum experience intense emotions, many people do not converse about their emotions very often, and do not spend a lot of time thinking of precise ways to describe the nuances of their feelings to others. Additionally, people with autism often struggle with executive functioning, which is the ‘organizing and logistics’ department in the brain. Your executive function is what helps you recognize a problem, think of options, choose one, and follow through on your choice.

This means that when people with autism come to a typical therapy setting, they are working really hard, because they are practicing stuff they don’t do all the time (verbalizing deep feelings and discussing options). I might compare this to a non-technical person meeting with their tech-support staff for entire hour of technical talk.

If you are this non-technical person, do you want your technical adviser, who you pay to help you, to suggest a few things out loud and send you on your way? Would you prefer that they write some things down so you can remember what the hell they were even talking about? I know I always appreciate written directions. If I’m lost, I want to look at a map, not listen to a paragraph of directions.

All of this seems doubly true for people who are visual learners, and struggle with auditory processing.

If you are the therapist for a person on the spectrum, please do not let them leave your office without writing down your main points. I realize the therapeutic process does not always call for some concrete action points, but some version of a written transcript will dramatically increase your efficacy.

1 Comment

  1. Mikaila Mills March 17, 2013 8:22 pm  Reply

    For real. As a “neurotypical” I have found myself leaving what I felt was like a good therapy session or appointment and later thinking what was the main point? What is my next step? I have gotten into my own habit over the years to always bring a notepad with me everywhere I go, but I would love to have summary at the end of any therapy session whether it was psychological, PT, OT, or even my medical doctor. I love a reference!

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