Resources for Therapists Working With Autistic Children

by | Apr 10, 2024 | Professionals

If you’re a therapist, social worker or another specialist who works with children, you will eventually find yourself working with a child on the autism spectrum. If you lack experience with autism, it can be intimidating, and you may not be sure of what to expect or how to be effective. 

Autism is widely misunderstood, even in the behavioral health community

Even when you are eager to learn, the latest scientific knowledge and best practices are not always easy to access or understand, leaving you to rely on common stereotypes or old, cliched models.

Understanding the Science

For too many years, the narrative around autism was built on the assumption that autistic individuals lack the ability to grow, which has led to pathologized models of treatment. But, advances in neuroscience plus the emergence of the neurodiverse community have resulted in massive paradigm shifts in how we think about autism, and how we understand those who identify as autistic.

Related: What Makes an Autism Intervention “Effective”?

The great news is that the research shows that the growth-seeking drive is still present in ASD kids (and adults) and it can be activated. Yet, the brain will only grow and adapt if it is challenged to do so. If clinicians and parents continue to work on this old belief, they will not bring appropriate challenges that stretch the autistic child. 

Clinicians must lead the way to ensure these kids are living up to their full potential. As a professional, it’s crucial that you stay up-to-date on the latest science in order to provide quality support and care that actually improves quality of life. 

Professional Resources about Autism

Transforming the Well-Being of Persons with Autism

This paper starts with a different question than most research; What are the obstacles preventing persons from experiencing life satisfaction and optimism for the future? It seeks to address this question and provide an alternate model that can significantly increase the potential for autistic persons to achieve greater well-being.

Is this Autism? 

Authors Donna Henderson, Psy.D. and Dr. Sarah Wayland, Ph.D. take the reader step by step through the diagnostic criteria, incorporating the latest research as well as quotes from over 100 autistic contributors that bring that research to life. They also describe many aspects of autism that are not included in the current diagnostic criteria, such as autistic strengths and co-occurring disorders. 

The Forgotten History of Autism 

Today, 1 person out of every 68 is on the autism spectrum. What caused this steep rise? In this TED talk, Steve Silberman points to “a perfect storm of autism awareness” — a pair of doctors with an accepting view, an unexpected pop culture moment and a new clinical test. To really understand, we have to go back even further to see how autism has been shrouded in misunderstanding ever since.

Autism – A New Perspective 

At the heart of this podcast is the unwavering belief that growth is possible in the life of individuals on the autism spectrum. This foundational belief comes from the latest autism research and our experience with thousands of cases where the child’s growth-seeking drive has been activated.

The Behavioral Revolution 

Behavior Revolution is a course that celebrates and supports neurodiverse families through science-backed insights, strategies, compassion, and guidance. incorporate brain-science and the mind-body connection to improve behavior. Though not written for professionals, this resource is helpful for clinicians who need a broader perspective on other approaches. 

Resources by Dr. Stephen Shore

Dr. Stephen Shore is an autistic professor of special education at Adelphi University, where his research focuses on matching best practices to the needs of people with autism. He is the author of several books including College for Students with Disabilities, Understanding Autism for Dummies, Ask and Tell, and Beyond the Wall. 

Selected Autism Videos by Karen Bailey, LPC

These videos are part of a professional training series to help clinicians who are new to working with autistic individuals. Ms. Bailey manages the Autism services division for the Western Tidewater Community Services Board in Virginia and trains other professionals to interpret autistic individuals’ behaviors and communication through the eyes of Neurodiversity.

Uniquely Human

This book and podcast, by Dr. Barry M. Prizant amplifies the voices of autistic individuals and thought leaders in providing insightful, cutting-edge and practical information about the autistic experience. 

The RDI® Book: Forging New Pathways for Autism, Asperger’s and PDD with the Relationship Development Intervention Program 

This book, by Dr. Steven Gutstein, was written for those who want to know more about the possibility of remediating the core deficits that define autism. It’s a good introduction for professionals interested in becoming RDI® Certified Consultants, as well as those already in the training process.

Want to Take Your Learning and Career to the Next Level?

If you are ready to learn more about how to support autistic individuals in your practice, we invite you to explore RDI® Training and Certification

This training sets you on a path to be able to bring significant quality of life changes to families and individuals – unlike any other thing out there. RDI equips professionals from all over the world from a variety of fields.

  • Psychology
  • Social work
  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Education
  • & more 

Click here to learn more about RDI® Training and Certification.


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