Last week, several members of Ummeed’s Mental Health Team were at the South Asia International Autism Conference 2015 in Delhi to present a poster on narrative therapy, authored by Daisy Daruwalla, Jill Sanghvi, and Jehanzeb Baldiwala.This poster explored the use of externalizing conversations with children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in an Indian context. Externalizing, one of the key techniques of narrative therapy, is a practice developed by Michael White to highlight the problem as separate from the person. The problem can be given form and can become manageable through the use of externalization (Cashin, 2008; McGuinty et al., 2012). When the problem is seen as external to the individual, concrete, and manageable, hope is generated (Freeman et al., 1997). This presentation shows the use of externalizing conversations with 10 children/ adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at Ummeed child development center in Mumbai, India. The externalizing conversation map was highlighted through these case studies. The map involves 5 steps that guide therapeutic conversations. The first step involves naming the problem, followed by outlining the effects the problem is having on the person’s routine, social interaction, relationships with significant people and sense of self. Step 3 and 4 involve taking a stand about the influence of the problem and describing why this is important to the person. The final step in this map involves making plans to reduce the influence of the problem often using special interests of the person with ASD. These case studies demonstrated that using externalizing has allowed children to effectively express the problem and describe the effects the problem is having on them, their school and their families. Using this map has helped develop insight in children and adolescents about some of the difficulties that come with ASD. Additionally, it has allowed persons with ASD to be more in control of the problem and feel empowered in taking steps to reduce its influence on their lives. Currently, there is no published data on using narrative therapy with children and adolescents with ASD in an Indian context. Check out photos of the fabulous work presented by our team at the conference!

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