Sep 6, 2021
Today, Tosha Rollins joins the show. She turned her passion into a private practice niche. One of the most important things about finding your niche is looking at what speaks to you. For Tosha, it's working with clients that have autism spectrum disorder. Research shows that only 2 out of 44 therapists feel comfortable working with autistic clients. So, there is a massive demand for referral resources and families that need our help. Tune in as Tosha speaks about the Autism Therapist Network, working with autistic clients, and the importance of continuing education for autism resources.
Tosha Rollins is a Licensed Professional Counselor in South Carolina, and owner of Rollins Counseling, LLC. She is also a wife to Travis, and momma to three sons, ages 8-22, and stepmom to Kaylee, who is now in college. She loves adventures, traveling, nature, and spending time with her family. She started the Autism in Action Podcast because she wanted to help families connect with autism resources, services, and support.
She became frustrated trying to find an autism-trained counselor for her oldest two children on the autism spectrum and realized the shortage of trained professionals across the country. She decided to create the Autism Therapist Network to teach & mentor mental health clinicians how to feel more confident and competent working with autistic clients and families affected by autism. When she is not seeing clients, homeschooling her youngest son, podcasting, she is spending quality time with her family and planning her next adventure.
Tosha's two oldest sons have autism spectrum disorder. After the diagnosis, Tosha decided to go into private practice and serve people on the spectrum. Research shows only 2 out of 44 mental health clinicians feel comfortable working with the autistic population. Unfortunately, this makes it hard for families to access services. A lot of times, it comes down to competency, skill sets, and education.
So many parents of autistic children complain about how hard it is to find mental health services for their children. In fact, 1 in 5 families has to move because they don't have access to services. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism. There is a lack of services after children age out of school; it's a big concern. It's estimated that anywhere between 70,000 and 100,000 children aged out of high school services with minimal transitional supports in place.
Tosha's primary mission is to educate clinicians and collaborate on the skill sets they need to improve on. Often we get comfortable with a specific niche or population. However, we need to do continuing education to meet our licensure requirements. Sadly, there's not a lot of training out there for the autism niche. Tosha is a fan of Pesi and the courses they offer. In fact, they have a Certified Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Specialist Intensive Training. Their training provides the education you need to deliver effective transformational strengths-based interventions, strategies, and approaches to support your clients.
Tosha created the Autism Therapist Network to help people expand their clinical skillsets for working with autistic clients. She provides online educational workshops and peer-driven clinical consultation groups to help you learn more about autism. In addition, the Autism Therapist Network is great for networking opportunities because of its online directory for all of its members. Lastly, their resources are perfect for anyone that wants to best support their autistic clients.
Therapists need to be open-minded, adaptable, and flexible when working with the autistic population. You might have a particular intervention that is structured for CBT. However, you may have to modify it for your client's executive functioning or cognitive ability. So, therapists need to get a good overview of their clients' executive function, cognitive ability, and emotional regulation. Make sure that your client understands their emotions. Also, ensure that they have plenty of resources to take home and use as visual prompts. That way, your clients can regulate when they are not in therapy.
The number one consideration for working with the autism population is to make sure that you have the education behind it. In order to be comfortable and competent, you need to understand person-centered planning. Plus, you need to understand cognitive behavioral therapy and have an excellent toolbox to pull from when working with these clients. These are all things that Tosha teaches on her Autism Therapist Network. She has expert spotlights that come in and share their words of wisdom. The more you can grow your network, the more that you can learn.
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