We’ve Got Issues With Danielle & Tiffany

Join two minorities as they discuss the unseen mental health implications in everyday situations: Danielle Ryer, an autistic Clinical Master of Social Work (MSW) student, and Tiffany Bridgett, a Deaf Clinical Psychology (Ph.D.) student.

Danielle, the author of DrComedian.com, is a Master of Social Work student at Rutgers University, entering Clinical Advanced Year in Fall 2020. She is an autistic self-advocate, motivational coach, individual autistic children and family support coach, writer, editor, and volunteer Crisis Counselor at Crisis Text Line. Her life’s mission is to instill hope, and encourage humor in society at large, encourage individuality and the need to discuss underexamined social issues.

Tiffany Bridgett identifies herself as d/Deaf and a fluent ASL speaker. She is an advanced student enrolled in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program at Gallaudet University. She graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology (2014) with magna cum laude in Psychology and Pre-Med with a minor in Criminal Justice. She has been trained at University of Michigan- Psychology Department, University of Rochester- Deaf Wellness Center, Gallaudet University- Counseling and Psychological Services, D.C. Courts- the Child Guidance Court, San Diego Community Services- Behavioral Health Department, Multicultural Clinical Center in Virginia, and Psychiatric Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. She is currently working on identifying how to best administer assessment measures in standardized ASL and how to best measure language-based reasoning in deaf children who speak ASL and doing her current clinical residency with Veterans Affairs. Her life’s mission is to eradicate the stigma of mental illness and to make services more accessible, effective, and culturally competent for those who have experienced trauma.

Support our efforts on Venmo

Donate to Danielle
Donate to Tiffany

Humor, Formality, and Healing

I’ve always appreciated the healing value of a good joke.

The whole ‘political correctness’ argument is tired. It is impossible to define or measure, it’s a matter of scope and opinion. We could argue that some things can/should be joked about, or shouldn’t. And that some jokes can hurt people. This is true. But that’s not the point.

My point is that many of us might focus on trying to be uniform everywhere we go, and we lose a big piece of ourselves in the process. We don’t let personality shine through. And for many people, being humorous is a key component of personality.

As a society, we have become too formal. Too perfect. Too concerned about professionalism and how ‘professional’ it is to say something humorous on occasion. Sometimes we view it as it taking something away from a message or undermining seriousness. But really, it can take the edge off serious situations, and ultimately won’t prevent something from being done. The mental health benefits help boost productivity.

Many people get burned out without a good sense of humor, but those attempting to serve society revive it with humor. Society has become so FORMAL that we stop laughing. We’re never allowed to both take things seriously enough to rectify them, create change that will benefit others, respect people, AND laugh.

Why is this? Why aren’t we creating a society where humor prevails, heals both the caregivers and the vulnerable, and can provide motivation and energy to all?

But the idea that only happy things can be joked about limits our opportunities to smile and heal. The more things you decide you cannot laugh at, the fewer opportunities you will have to savor moments. Surely it’s wise to draw some lines, and maybe create rules/exceptions.

But you know? The leaky roof isn’t a happy thing. It’s an annoying thing. What else can you do about it until you can hire a contractor to fix it? Bemoan the water dripping on your head, or make a joke about it?

Humor might, but doesn’t have to undermine the seriousness of issues — on the other hand, it can highlight them and bring attention to areas in need of rework, and people in need of support. But ultimately, you can bet that humor creates conversations: If it arouses introspection, it’s one that we all need to have.

Some will say “everything is either black or white.” Some are healed by the revelation that their trauma is amusing, and that it takes the power away. I believe that this is a strength.

Some are uncomfortable around the idea of sad things, in general, being a topic of a joke. We can’t get away from the sad things, typically, we can only cope with them. There’s reframing, a sense of acceptance of there needing to be dark with the light – but humor is one of many ways. And there’s a taboo against laughing at some things, though it can be both artful and healing.

I would not advise an individual to say something outright demeaning unless you’re having a ‘roast battle’ with a friend. The key here – is discretion. Further, always consider the group or the individuals you are speaking with. Their personality. Their mood. Their mindset. Whether the situation can stand to benefit or will be undermined by a joke. These components are all part of the presentation.

Philosophy on Disability

We know that everyone has both challenges and strengths. When dealing with disabilities, we tend to look at things fatalistically. Why is this? I argue that it’s partially due to the way we’re conditioned to view disability – when someone has unusual challenges because they don’t meet expectations, we have this idea that (a) they never will, in spite of intervention or accommodation; or (b) there is no place for them and (c) because there is something irrevocably wrong (instead of different) (d) and when there is something wrong, that it cannot be adjusted.

These are myths.

Sometimes we’re truly inhibited by some aspects of our condition in some areas of life. But should we make a fish climb a tree? Or should we put the fish in rushing water, and see it at its best? And if that fish has trouble swimming, shouldn’t we figure out why? Shouldn’t we try to help? The right kind of support can make all the difference.

Self-disclosure, I never did well in math. I might never become a mathematician. Good thing is, I never let that upset me, because I would pay good money to make sure I never become one. I’ve taken steps towards becoming what I’m good at.

We adapt where we need to in order to achieve what we can and want to in life.

I subscribe to the social model of disability.

Disabled or not, we are people. Not only do we have rights, but we have value, dignity, and untapped potential.

If you would like a complimentary resource brokerage and support consultation, feel free to reach out at any time. I am a crisis intervention counselor at Crisis Text Line and a motivational coach.

Business Card. Text reads

Ryer Autism & Mental Health Services
email: asdquestion@gmail.com
web: drcomedian.com/coaching
facebook: facebook.com/ryercoaching
phone: +1 (856) 282-0192

Coaching, Mental Health, Presentations, & Motivational Speaking

Living as an autistic woman myself, I provide clinician support, industry support, individual, group & family coaching support as well as motivational speaking, group education, and group coaching.

I provide coaching to anyone needing education about life as an autistic person, whether they have a direct or indirect relationship, professional, clinical, personal, familial relationship with autism, or to just provide knowledge to the curious.

Individual & Family Coaching Services

I am a Master Social Worker (MSW) from Rutgers University. I have a bachelor’s in both Psychology and Philosophy. While I am not a doctor of any kind, I am informed by research, years of crisis intervention experience, traditional clinical social work, teaching, and general work with people with disabilities (especially ASD) professionally, and my own experience.

While I view autism as a gift, it can also come with challenges that may impede the gifts shining through. I know that it can be difficult living with someone different from you, but I also believe in setting families up to succeed and thrive happily, and plant seeds of hope for a bright future. I believe that anyone, with the right guidance, can lead a happy life.

No two people are alike, but I am able to relate well to the experience of being an autistic child because I was one. We grow strong either because of, or in spite of the trials we face as people with disabilities.

I will share my own experience and translate what behaviors are intended to communicate, and how to intervene effectively and compassionately in situations of emotional crisis, without getting overwhelmed yourself.

Disabilities can be tough to manage, and resources aren’t always apparent, but what’s tougher is going through it alone.

The Initial Consult Process

We will schedule a complimentary first-time call with you to learn about what you are going through, and we can decide if my services would be a good match. If I or you do not think ongoing or as-needed services will be useful, I will provide a referral to an agency that can better assist you. My goal isn’t to receive money, this is a service to my community. I will not recommend my services unless I think it will be a good fit.

My Role, and Limits to My Role

I can serve as an advocate, mentor, social service broker, public speaker, and general educator about autism and other mental health problems. I can also coach and motivate people without autism. My other areas of expertise include domestic abuse and occupational concerns.

I utilize active-listening skills, and my training as a crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line to inform my work as a coach. I am not a licensed clinical counselor (yet!), thus I cannot yet provide therapy, though I will take an active role in listening to any concerns you have and take a combination of emotion-focused and solution-focused approach where needed. My role is to be an advocate for you and your child, and help educate you about the autistic experience from the perspective of an autistic adult and point you in the direction of services you might need, and empower you to meet your own needs and avoid caretaker burnout. I ask specific questions geared towards helping determine needs and learning about any history that still applies to the struggles in the present.

I talk with the child, adult, or young adult and get a sense of the struggles experienced by the young adult/child. I then share my observations with parents, caregivers, and spouses to improve the quality of relationships, to bridge understanding, and find resources. One-on-one time with the child or adult is geared towards building coping skills as related to a disability; utilizing helpful resources at school, home, and work, and help manage sources of stress, rather than focusing on symptoms.

I want to empower people to exist in the world as-is, and follow the trail of acceptance, rather than changing yourself. More on my philosophy can be found here.

In addition to autism/disability support, people with suspected/diagnosed mental health concerns, people with other health conditions, addiction sufferers, parents, domestic abuse survivors, the elderly, spouses, caregivers–and anyone else who feels they may benefit from a positive, enthusiastic support system is encouraged to reach out.

Goals of Coaching

Here’s what we can build on together!

  • A stronger mutual understanding between you and your family member.
  • Less burnout for you. More time to spend doing what you love. More life. Less bitterness. Less caretaking. More motivation.
  • Better access and communication with other services (schools, therapists, social service agencies).
  • Networking for resources outside of coaching
  • To get to the point where you no longer need coaching!!

Coaching Services & Payment

Services are rendered locally in NJ, PA, & surrounding areas, or through phone, FaceTime, Skype, and other remote options. I do not take insurance, but I do not charge the fee a traditional counselor would. Initial phone consults are complimentary.

Motivational Speaking

Danielle lecturing students in Guangzhou, China

I have been a public speaker for more than six years, from all around South Jersey and the Philadelphia area to all the way in Guangzhou, China (see image on the right). I have a podcast/radio show on 91.5 WDBK about positive psychology, mental health, comedy, and social work.

The topics I cover include:
* Understanding what it’s like to be autistic, and how you can be a supportive friend/coworker/family member/teacher/therapist/mentor/advisor
* Stress management
* What to do when ……
* “What does this mean?” and general autism education/Q&A
* Crisis Intervention Support
* Dialectical Behavioral Skills
* And more… (I can work with your needs!)
* How to effectively serve students who require accommodations; diversity & inclusion training
* Comorbid disabilities
* Living and thriving well (with or without a disability!) / general motivational speaking

I have been speaking and presenting in public since 2012. The basis of my work as a speaker is to educate professionals on autism-friendly service delivery, with respect to individual differences. I address police forces, social service agencies, classrooms, schools/colleges/universities (both special education and mainstream), and anywhere else my services can be provided. My contact email can be found at the bottom of this page.

Support Groups

I provide non-clinical, non-psychiatric support groups for individuals and families. Groups populate based on needs, current group cohesion, and overall fit. Common themes in the past include: Self-care, caregiver burnout, building ourselves, and setting children up for success.

Formal Training
* Suicide, Risk Assessment, & De-Escalation
* Dementia & Alzheimer’s Sensitivity
* Autism & Related Conditions, Other Disabilities, Medical Health Impairments
* Supervising and coaching people with disabilities

Other Links out
-> Autism Speech on 91.5 WDBK
-> More about Danielle

Social Media
—> Facebook Page (Contact for Contracting)
—> Stand-up Comedy Page

(c) January 2022, Danielle M. Ryer, MSW