EMDR and Autism can make an excellent combination. Using EMDR with individuals with autism can reduce both symptoms of PTSD and autism. These benefits are long lasting and provide a foundation for continuing growth and development. Individuals with autism present with a variety of complex neurological differences that may make trauma processing more difficult and even harmful in some situations. In order to use the eight step EMDR protocol successfully with these individuals some modifications are necessary, especially additional resource development in the preparation stage.
This presentation will include a step by step journey through the 8 step protocol including modifications for use with autism. The preparation stage strategies have evolved into a self contained program called “Finding Myself” which may be extracted for use in other situations. Interested therapists will learn the use of social stories, skill training, affect awareness and regulation, strategies to increase verbal expression and more to help make the EMDR process successful and comfortable for autistic individuals.
EMDR with these modifications has been used with individuals across the spectrum, including developmentally disabled children and adults with severe cognitive and verbal impairments. A wide range of benefits have been noted including reduction in symptoms, increased verbal ability, improved social interaction, improved self regulation, and general functioning. Cautions will also be included in this presentation.
Sherri Paulson. M.ED., LSCW currently practices at Memorial Medical Center Behavioral Health In Ashland Wisconsin as a child and adolescent therapist.. Her specialty areas include sexual abuse treatment and work with individuals with autism and other developmental delays. She received her Masters degree from the University of Houston in 1991 and also has an additional 30 hours of graduate work from University of Wisconsin-Madison in Education and Child Psychopathology. She has 7 years of teaching experience. Ms. Paulson was first trained in EMDR in 1998 and is currently an approved consultant.
She has been using EMDR with children with autism since 1998. Ms. Paulson has participated in numerous local trainings to help teach parents and professionals about autism. Her first presentation on autism and EMDR was a poster session at the EMDRIA Conference in Denver Colorado and then a presentation of a protocol for using EMDR with Individuals with autism at the EMDRIA Conference in 2006.