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The autistic moment in psychotherapy

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Abstract

This is a report on the author's experience in treating four autistic children and their families. The importance of making available the therapist's own autism is stressed. The difficulty in doing this and reverting defensively to an administrative approach is described. A previous paper discussed the “corrective autistic experience” with a focus on the autistic person. This follow-up describes the “autistic moment” which is a relational experience between the therapist and both the autistic person and the autistic family. The family needs to have an experience of its own autism as a continuum of normal before it can relate to an autistic child. To the extent that the therapist can bring his own autism into the therapy can the family experience its own. The patients are the person, the relationships, the family, and the therapist.

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Author information

Correspondence to Douglas A. Kramer MD.

Additional information

The author would like to thank Richard B. Anderson, MD, Lindy T. Barnett, MSW, David V. Keith, MD, JoEllen Barnett Smith, MA, and Orion Smith for their participation as cotherapists. The comments made on an earlier draft of this paper by the members of the Atlantic Psychiatric Clinic are warmly acknowledged. Valuable editorial assistance has been extended by Robert Garfield, MD, and Stuart Sugarman, MD. Lastly, the author would like to extend his appreciation to Robert R. Haubrich, PhD, for stimulating his interest in the field of comparative ethology.

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Kramer, D.A. The autistic moment in psychotherapy. Contemp Fam Ther 9, 79–89 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00890265

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Keywords

  • Health Psychology
  • Social Issue
  • Autistic Child
  • Relational Experience
  • Family Experience