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718 | Complexities and Challenges When Married to Autism: Introduction to Neuro-diverse Christian Couples

Personality Disorders, Challenging Issues, and Complex Cases, Saturday 9/16 2:15 – 3:30, Workshop Tracks


Stephanie Holmes, Ed.D.; Dan Holmes, M.S.



Approved For CE

Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Pastors, Pastoral Counselors, Lay Counselors, Coaches

Approved For CME/CEU




In the 1990s, the terms Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and High Function Autism (HFA) became part of the diagnostic lexicon, yet research and support for adults on the autism spectrum are still lacking. While we no longer use the terms Asperger’s or denote high or low-functioning autism, we have not truly understood the concept of Neurodiversity in the therapeutic or ministry world. With that in mind, this workshop asks licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders to consider that therapeutic approaches and modalities taught in various schools of training assume both people in marriage counseling are neuro-typical (NT) and possess essential, compatible, or similar communication skillsets. Have clinicians and pastors considered how neurology impacts marital and family counseling or how Theory of Mind and perspective-taking differences may affect a couple’s ability to connect spiritually, relationally, cognitively, and physically? In this workshop, participants are asked to consider that Neurodiverse and Neurotypical people may have different capacities or needs to connect or how each person defines connection. The presenter will help clinicians and pastors learn about autism in marriage, how to identify Neurodiverse marriages, and also the differences and similarities between ASD and personality disorders.

Learning Objectives

1. Identify the challenges and nuances of counseling the Aspie/Autistic-Neurotypical (NT) marriage and why traditional marriage therapy does not work, and how to differentiate between narcissism and autism
2. Discuss strategies for licensed mental health professionals and ministry leaders to implement in counseling to strengthen marriages affected by autism
3. Describe the neurological wiring of the Aspie (AS)/Neurodiverse brain and complications of communication and relational intimacy with a person on the spectrum
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