Enhancing Interpersonal Effectiveness in People on the Autism Spectrum within a Multi-Sensory Environment

Research on attunement—also called the science of trust—has taught us a lot about how to help our clients on the autism spectrum improve interpersonal effectiveness using treatment within a multi-sensory environment (MSE). Due to sensory sensitivities, clients on the autism spectrum are often quite guarded during social interactions. This is a pattern that typically developed early in life because the sensory aspects of interpersonal experience provided mixed messages about the safety and trustworthiness of others during social exchanges.

When a client on the autism spectrum enters an MSE, Attunement Solutions Dynamics Approach (ASDA) Practitioners are sensitive to the social anxiety that develops naturally over time in people who began life with sensory sensitivity. Is means a therapeutic approach characterized by sympathetic resonance is an essential tool for the ASDA Practitioner’s toolbox. Research on the use of mindfulness in therapy has made it plain that, sympathetic resonance is of central importance when working to bond with clients who are defensive about social attachments.

As we all know, adults on the autism spectrum may have gifted intelligence that supports positive learning potential but, they often attach with objects, ideas, and numbers, much more easily than with people. One aspect of therapeutic sympathetic resonance is that an ASDA Practitioner, never forces our self, into the forefront of an MSE experience when our client wants us to stay in the background. An MSE provides the perfect therapeutic environment for working with these clients as they accept and master new social challenges over time.

Many of yesterday’s classrooms actually deprived children on the autism spectrum of exactly what they needed to optimize their adult development potential. Since children on the autism spectrum have sensory sensitivity, social anxiety is to be expected and educational experiences would have ideally focused on development of their social and emotional intelligence. Instead, many classrooms focused only on concrete processes that are commonly their areas of intellectual strength.

Children and adults on the autism spectrum, respond well to treatment in an MSE because, sensory entrainment supports attunement repatterning. By providing an environment in which a client can shift out of anxiety or boredom, treatment in an MSE may enhance self-motivation and development of emotional and social intellectual skills that they once believed were out of the realm of their personal possibilities. Treatment of clients using the ASDA in an MSE, naturally enhances self-motivation by supporting new adaptive learning while broadening the range of new social and emotional learning possibilities.