Mónica Díaz Cayeros, an EFT supervisor in Mexico, specialized in narrative and EMDR therapy before discovering that her own daughter was on the autism spectrum. This revelation prompted her to delve deeper into understanding neurodivergent individuals in relationships. 

Despite her background in psychology, Mónica was initially surprised when her 19-year-old daughter revealed her suspicions about being on the spectrum. Monica’s daughter had discovered YouTube videos about autism and recognized herself in them. Subsequent testing confirmed her neurodivergence. Things suddenly fell into place. “It helped me to understand a lot of things. When I called her down for breakfast, for instance, she would take 40 minutes to come, and she hadn’t even taken a shower or brushed her teeth. I also understood why teachers worried because she was reading so much, or that birthday party when she asked me to invite the whole classroom, only to spend most of the time hiding away with just one friend, and some of the ‘harsh’ comments that now I understand were not with bad intentions.”

Mónica began to read, joined an online group, did workshops, and soon she started to recognize clients in her practice who were on the spectrum too. “It’s helpful to consider that someone could be on the spectrum. With that in mind, we can make sense of some comments and actions that may be triggering their partner but are not necessarily part of the negative cycle.”


At the same time, she realized that patients are not always happy when a therapist suggests they’re on the spectrum. “I’ve made mistakes with this. I would tell people who didn’t want to get that label. When people ask themselves, they’ll feel relieved to get some answers. When they are just told, they often experience feelings of shame. Now I understand it’s not my job to suggest someone is on the spectrum, and when it may be helpful, it is better to use the term ‘neurodiverse’. It’s not a diagnosis, and I find that the couple remains more open to my explanation.”

Can people who are on the spectrum really enjoy connection? “I think they have a different need for connection. They still need connection – from the crib to the grave, as Sue would always say. But the way they express and receive connection is different. My daughter, for instance, may show videos of things she’s interested in. She wants me to watch – that is a need for connection. There are many ways to show love. But often, people on the spectrum have been misunderstood, bullied, or traumatized, and sometimes they choose to isolate themselves.”


Partners of neurodivergent individuals often experience a lack of connection. Living with someone with special needs may lead the partner to neglect their own needs. That’s why the EFT tango is crucial, says Mónica, as it delves deep into the emotions and needs of both partners. “You tango with both sides; both can express their needs and what triggers them.”

While many children receive early diagnoses these days, many adults still haven’t. Mónica primarily works with undiagnosed individuals, whose differences become apparent only in intimate relationships. She offers practical advice, such as being specific about needs. “For instance, when guests come over, I need you to make sure they all have a drink. Or when undergoing a medical procedure, express your desire for your partner to accompany you to every appointment and hold your hand. It’s important not to assume they don’t care. You may also need other sources of connection as well.”

She also advises therapists: “Don’t automatically assume that a response is an emotional reaction to the partner, as it might originate from a different way of processing information. And if your clients express concerns about a possible autistic condition, don’t dismiss them; refer them to a specialist, even if they seem ‘normal’ to you.”