You are currently viewing Challenging Myths about Autism – What Assessors and Therapists Need to Know: Lessons from the Neurodiversity Movement

Challenging Myths about Autism – What Assessors and Therapists Need to Know: Lessons from the Neurodiversity Movement

Current Status
Not Enrolled
Get Started

Presented by Joel Schwartz, PsyD, of Total Spectrum Counseling

Recorded via Zoom on May 7, 2021

This program offers 6.0 CEs for Psychologists, and 6.0 BBS California CEUs for LPCCs, LPSW, and LMFTs

Program Description:

As more and more people are coming out as autistic and openly participating in society, it is becoming abundantly clear that the last 60 years of scholarship on autism is woefully biased and inadequate. Most of what we know about autism comes from a deficits or medical model that centers non-autistic experience as normal and most functional. The result of this is that most knowledge, treatments, conceptualizations, and theories of autism are inherently ableist; practitioners see differences in functioning as less than human or disordered/deficient. When viewing autistic phenomena purely through a neurotypical lens, we develop a narrative of autism that is completely disconnected from the actual lived experience of autistic people. This continues a scientific tradition of centering majority experiences as normal in order to pathologize or minimize the importance of a minority experience.

In the last 15 years or so, autistic people and advocates have been developing a new paradigm to understand neurological brain differences. Borrowing from other social justice movements, the neurodiversity paradigm views conditions such as autism and ADHD as stemming from naturally occurring biodiversity. If we begin to understand autism from this perspective, including contributions from autistic researchers, autistic bloggers, autistic theoreticians, and autistic clinicians, we begin to develop an entirely different understanding of what autism actually is and how societal values, standard treatments, and modern hegemonies end up hurting and disabling autistic people more than they help. This program weds recent research on autism with lived experience of autistic people under a banner of neurodiversity to inform clinicians about how to best work with autistic people as assessors and therapists.

Learning Objectives:

After attending this intermediate-level program, participants will be able to:

  1. Participants will be able to describe theories, vocabulary and treatment options provided by the neurodiversity perspective.
  2. Participants will identify myths and stereotypes about autism.
  3. Participants will be able to describe autism from a lived-experience/neurodiversity perspective.
  4. Participants will be able to identify ways in which current treatment of autistic people can be further disabling or traumatizing, and learn alternatives that value the autistic experience.
  5. Participants will be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various autism assessment methods.
  6. Participants will use actual case presentations to model neurodiversity affirming therapy and begin to immediately incorporate theories into their practices.

Professional Bio of Presenter Joel Schwartz, PsyD

Dr. Joel Schwartz is a licensed clinical psychologist (CA – PSY 29887, CO – PSY.0005190) practicing in Southern California with Total Spectrum Counseling. He specializes in therapy and testing for the misunderstood. Dr. Schwartz has been working in the Autism field since 2004, beginning as an ABA therapist, and continuing on to becoming Neurodiversity informed. His current practice is 75% autistic clients of all ages.

Dr. Schwartz grew up in Southern California. Dr. Schwartz attended UCLA as an undergrad where he conducted research in the field of neurolinguistics. From there, he attended Yeshiva University’s Ferkauf School of Clinical Psychology for his Master’s and Doctorate degree. He has worked in various settings including colleges, clinics, a federal prison, and residential treatment centers.


Kana, R. K., Uddin, L. Q., Kenet, T., Chugani, D., & Müller, R.A. (2014). Brain connectivity in autism. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8, 349.

Kristensen, Z.E. & Broome, M.R. (2016). Autistic traits in an Internet sample of gender variant UK adults. International Journal of Transgenderism, 4, 234-245.

Milton, D.E.M, Waldock, K.E., & Keates, N. (2023) Autism and the ‘double empathy problem.’ In F. Mezzenzana & D. Peluso (Eds) Conversations on Empathy: Interdisciplinary Perspective of Imagination and Radical Othering (pp.78-97). Taylor & Francis Group.

Registration and Fees:

General Admission: $200.00

Student Admission: $100.00

Pease email us at [email protected] with your school email address to receive a discount code for this program

Continuing Education:

Target Audience: All mental health disciplines.

Psychologists. This program, when attended in its entirety, is available for 6.0 continuing education credits. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is committed to accessibility and non-discrimination in its continuing education activities. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is also committed to conducting all activities in conformity with the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles for Psychologists. Participants are asked to be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality throughout the program. If program content becomes stressful, participants are encouraged to process these feelings during discussion periods. If participants have special needs, we will attempt to accommodate them. Please address questions, concerns and any complaints to [email protected] There is no commercial support for this program nor are there any relationships between the CE Sponsor, presenting organization, presenter, program content, research, grants, or other funding that could reasonably be construed as conflicts of interest.

MFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs. Course meets the qualifications for 6.0 hour of continuing education credit for MFTs, LPCCs, and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. If you are licensed outside of California please check with your local licensing agency to to determine if they will accept these CEUs. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to offer continuing education programming for MFTs, LPCCs, LEPs, and/or LCSWs. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is an accredited or approved postsecondary institution that meets the requirements set forth in Sections 4980.54(f)(1), 4989.34, 4996.22(d)(1), or 4999.76(d) of the Code.

Participation Certificate. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is able to provide students and other participants who simply wish to have documentation of their attendance at the program a participation certificate.

Non Psychologists. Most licensing boards accept Continuing Education Credits sponsored by the American Psychological Association but non-psychologists are recommended to consult with their specific state-licensing board to ensure that APA-sponsored CE is acceptable.

*Participants must attend 100% of the program in order to obtain a Certificate of Attendance.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology maintains responsibility for this program and its content.