Celebrating Unique Minds - Autism

March 29, 2023

Today, I would like to tell you more about Coaching with NLP. I spend a lot of my working week supporting individual clients in one to one coaching meetings. Taking a glimpse into the world of others, hearing their presenting problems and calculating how they can possibly create the reality and feelings that they create is one of the most interesting elements of my own model of the world and one that I believe enriches my training capabilities and knowledge.

I’ve been working and coaching with NLP, Time Line Therapy™ Techniques and Hypnosis for many years now and yet I still hear ‘firsts’ as new people create pictures of their world for me.  Hearing a new problem for the first time is what keeps me excited about what can be achieved with NLP.  Seeing a new client is all about engaging my curiosity and really entering into that person’s reality for the time that they are with me. Every client deepens my understanding of the human condition and behaviour and I delight in the fresh challenges that each one brings.

Presenting problems which are heard for the first time require confidence and the willingness to experiment on the part of the NLP Coach, so when a particular new client was referred to me, my curiosity was immediately engaged.  The parents of a young adult contacted me on behalf of their son who has a phobia of spiders. What’s new about that I hear you ask? That’s simple isn’t it, just do the Fast Phobia Model and the work is done? Well, in usual circumstances yes, you would be absolutely correct. The uniqueness here is that the young man has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Hans Asperger was born in Austria in 1906. He studied medicine in Vienna and specialised in paediatrics. He joined the staff of the University Paediatric Clinic which treated psychologically impaired children through ‘remedial pedagogy’, an intervention combining medical and educational principles.  Asperger observed a particular symptom pattern among some of his child patients which he coined ‘autistic psychopathy’.  The core features he recognised were:

• Autistic aloneness – the children were observed to shut out everything from the outside. They exhibited an interest in objects and will play happily with them for hours, not so with people.

• Restricted interests and desire for sameness – Behaviour and verbal utterances demonstrate monotonous repetition and spontaneous activities are limited. Children showed an anxiously obsessive desire for maintaining sameness.

• Language issues – issues forming language in the early years and later using repetitive language and talking whilst taking no account of whether the topic was of interest or relevance to others.

• Islets of Ability – Evidence of special or unusual skill, for example memory skills or mental arithmetic.

• Lack of imaginative play.

• Atypical eye gaze, gesture and other non-verbal forms of communication.

• Atypical reactions to sensory stimuli such as extreme sensitivity to noise, and obsession with texture and feel.

• Clumsy movements and dexterity in special skills.

• Some behavioural issues including aggressive and destructive behaviour.

(Adapted from: The Autism Spectrum in the 21st Century – I. Roth)

I knew there was a lot for me to learn from this young man and so I went to visit him. My thinking was that seeing him in his home environment would maintain his sense of familiarity and allow him to be more relaxed as we worked together.  My idea was to keep everything very simple and continue slowly, guiding him gently through the Fast Phobia Process.  Imagine my surprise when the results were much less than I had hoped for.  The level of logic and detail that this young man presented me with was most unexpected.  I quickly realised that he required more information than I had offered, in fact much more information, even more than I would generally offer to any phobia client.

So, what did I do? The next time we met I took a very different approach. I took with me a picture of the NLP Communication Model and I described the mechanisms and technology of its operation in intricate detail. I used NLP terminology and encouraged him to ask questions and he did, a lot of questions which I answered as if I were answering students within a training. Everything clicked for him. We repeated the Fast Phobia Model and the results were great!

Simplifying the process had not worked for this very high-functioning young man. He needed the science behind the process and when he heard it, he loved it.  We’ve worked on other issues since and his life continues to be enriched by the changes he is willing to make.  A great learning experience for me too!

Enjoy your curiosity and willingness to experiment!

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