DBT skills course: continuing saga

For the uninitiated DBT stands for Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. It was devised back in the 1990s specifically for the treatment of individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Even more specifically, it was aimed at young women who were considered impervious to other forms of treatment. The difficult ones. The ones only hardened professionals did not shy away from treating. Even now the title page of each section features the profile of a young woman.

Over the twenty-odd years since then DBT has been used to treat a variety of other conditions. Now, using only the ‘skills’ aspect of the course, it is being rolled out for adults diagnosed with autism.

Yesterday was the fifth day , and the third day on ‘Emotional Regulation’.
I signed a ‘contract’ to attend, and attend I shall. After being so distressed early on I was asked / encouraged / urged to keep going. The person causing me the most angst then was the course leader; he is not autistic, so I can forgive the crassness of some of his comments.

This week, however, it was another person on the course who had me on the verge of tears; the insensitivity and rudeness kind of blindsided me. We all have difficulties, and everyone with ASD is different: many are sensitive to sensory input (in different areas and at different levels) while some are not at all. This person is extremely sensitive to regular, repetitive sounds; I am not. However, alongside ASD I have sensory integration dysfunction which causes me sensitivities with noise generally (especially sudden, loud, inconsistent, or high-pitched kinds), light, smells, touch, etc.

I had been blocking out her seemingly constant ‘paper shuffling’ and was doing OK; then the large vertical blinds were suddenly opened, including the one directly in front of me, and this did cause me physical discomfort. This person wears very dark glasses; there are about fourteen people in the room, all with unknown / unseen issues; without reference to anyone else she fully opened the blinds covering four windows. I stimmed to keep in the game.
Next came the verbal ‘put down’ that led to the tearfulness.
I stayed put until the break when I was able to get some water.
What came after the break was what broke me: smell. Every session she eats and today’s sandwiches had something in them that was extremely unpleasant to me. I had to move away. We have no group rule about eating and I’ve never been anywhere where one was necessary. It isn’t as if we don’t have a break and she opened up the packet within minutes of coming back after taking a break.

I understand that to the many who are not sensitive to sensory input this would appear to be an extreme reaction on my part. For those who do, I’m positive you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from.

Apologies for this turning into another mini-rant, but I need to let off steam somewhere. Next Monday morning I’ll just psych myself up, get through as best I can, and look forward to my super lunch date with my husband after.

For more thoughts on the course please check out a previous post on Jargon Judgements: wordpress.com/block-editor/post/marilynunmasked.blog/6275

Today is our anniversary – 47 years clocked up – and it would have been great to post something about love. But marriage is about resilience as well – so I’ll go with that. My husband is ready to pick up the pieces of my post-group trauma and that is what love is really about. Being there for each other.
In honour of that I shall also be posting a poem I wrote to celebrate our being together for thirty three years. Please check it out.

If you have found anything worthy in this post, perhaps you can relate to some of it, please like, share, and comment.
Thank you for reading. Have a great evening.

Published by Marilyn

Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder after fifty years in the mental health system I decided to share my experiences and consider the impact my health has had on my well-being. Being creative is the mainstay of my life and it's how I express my deepest emotions. Photography, writing, and design challenge me and help keep me rooted in the present.

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