What Anxiety Treatments Work for People with Autism? (2022)

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Marina Sarris
Interactive Autism Network at Kennedy Krieger Institute


Marina Sarris
Interactive Autism Network at Kennedy Krieger Institute

This is the second of two articles on anxiety in autism. The first, "Anxiety's Toll on People with Autism," explores symptoms and diagnosis. This article focuses on treatment. A related blog is The Hardest Part of Having Autism?

What Anxiety Treatments Work for People with Autism? (1)For years, the Gilroys resisted giving anxiety medication to their daughter, Lindsay. Back then, some 20 years ago, no one knew how these drugs would affect someone with autism, like Lindsay. But her anxiety worsened, affecting her at home and school. "In her late teens, things really started falling apart," said her mother, Susan. At that point, the teen began taking an anti-anxiety drug and later her doctor added a second medication when new symptoms arose. "We've seen a marked improvement, and in my mind, it's about a better quality of life for her," Susan Gilroy said.

Scientific research into autism, as well as anxiety, has grown since then, but families and patients still face the same questions as the Gilroys did. That's because research into anxiety treatments for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder is spotty, at best. There are no major clinical trials or proven protocols to guide patients, families, or doctors as to which medications work best, for which symptoms, and in which patients with autism. In fact, no anxiety medication or therapy for children with autism meets the American Psychological Association guidelines for effectiveness.1

Of course, that does not mean that people with autism must suffer with anxiety: that extreme fear and dread, sweating, restlessness, and even chest pain for some.2 Some doctors are promoting research, training others to help these patients, and publishing advice for treating anxiety in people on the spectrum.

Investigating Anxiety and Autism

What Anxiety Treatments Work for People with Autism? (2)Anxiety is one of the most common psychiatric disorders affecting people with autism. About 40 percent of youth – and up to half of adults – meet the clinical criteria of an anxiety disorder, such as social anxiety, phobia, panic disorder, or generalized anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.3-9 By comparison, the anxiety rates in adults and children who do not have autism is 18 and 25 percent, respectively, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

A few years ago, a group of researchers working with the Autism Treatment Network wanted to see what science had to say about anxiety treatment for children and teens with autism. The group, led by child psychiatrist Roma A. Vasa, became medical detectives, scouring online libraries to find out. Unfortunately, they could not find a clear answer because little rock-solid research existed. Large, long-term studies – the kind that can provide definitive proof of a treatment's effectiveness – were "sorely needed," they concluded.10

Since that 2014 article, a few more studies have been published, with "promising results" for two school-based behavioral therapies for anxiety in autism. But there is still little research on anxiety in adults with ASD, or in people who have both autism and intellectual disability.11

Examining Data on Medication for Anxiety

What do we know so far, starting with medication?

What Anxiety Treatments Work for People with Autism? (3)Three types of drugs – antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers (a heart medicine) – are used to treat anxiety in the general population, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Do these medications work the same in people with autism? When doing their detective work, Dr. Vasa and the researchers with the Autism Treatment Network found only a few drug studies that focused solely on youth with autism and anxiety. The studies were small, lacked a control group, and/or did not hide the medication's names from the researchers. Generally, the results of studies with those features may be less reliable. The best studies use many participants and keep the medication being tested a secret from both participants and researchers, to prevent that knowledge from influencing them.

A few studies showed that children who took either the antidepressant citalopram (brand name Celexa) or the anti-anxiety drug buspirone (Buspar) showed some improvement. Children who took the antidepressant fluvoxamine (Luvox) did not report benefit in another small study. But whether those results will hold up in studies with a more rigorous design is unknown. In addition, some children had unwanted side effects that ranged from mild to severe.12

Similarly, a few small studies of adults with autism found that Luvox may help with obsessive-compulsive behavior, and fluoxetine (Prozac) with anxiety, according to the Cochrane Collaboration, an independent network of scientists and researchers. Luvox, Prozac, and Celexa belong to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Decisions about these drugs should be made on "a case-by-case" basis for obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety in adults with autism, the Cochrane reviewers concluded.13

First Things First, When Treating Anxiety

We don't have much data about how we should go about prescribing these medications in autism, so we recommended 'starting low and going slow.'

So, what should doctors do before prescribing one of these medications?

In 2016, a second group of doctors, also led by Dr. Vasa, published advice for primary care providers treating anxiety in youth with autism.11 In an interview, she explained, "We don't have much data about how we should go about prescribing these medications in autism, so we recommended 'starting low and going slow.'" That means doctors should start with a low dose and slowly increase it, while monitoring the patient's reactions to it. "These kids are very vulnerable to side effects," said Dr. Vasa, director of education and training, and associate professor of psychiatry, at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and Kennedy Krieger Institute.

What Anxiety Treatments Work for People with Autism? (4)For core anxiety symptoms, her group listed four possible SSRI antidepressants, sertraline (Zoloft), Prozac, Celexa, or escitalopram (Lexapro). That listing was based upon data on children and teenagers who do not have a developmental disorder. The researchers noted that youth with autism often report one particular side effect with SSRI drugs: "behavioral activation," which may appear as hyperactivity, impulsiveness, or trouble sleeping.14 Other possible side effects, which are not unique to autism, are suicidal thoughts in adolescents, or worsening of mood problems in people with bipolar disorder. So these drugs "should be prescribed cautiously in youth with ASD, with close monitoring," the researchers advised. Their article, in the journal Pediatrics, includes starting and maximum doses for doctors to consider. (See Additional Resources below for a link to the article, to share with your health care provider.)

Other medications that might be used to address symptoms of anxiety (not all are proven to help) include:

  • the supplement melatonin or blood pressure medicine clonidine for insomnia,
  • blood pressure medicines clonidine or guanfacine for aggression, self-injury and irritability that may occur with anxiety, and
  • the beta-blocker propranolol, or the tranquilizer lorazepam, for anxiety caused by a temporary situation, such a medical procedure or stressful event.11

However, before filling a prescription, Dr. Vasa's group suggested that families and providers first address any school and home problems that trigger anxiety, and also try behavioral therapies.

For example, youth with autism may experience anxiety due to problems at school, such as bullying, unrecognized learning and speech problems, or inadequate academic and behavioral help, they explained. Health care providers can help by communicating with school staff about ways to help that student. Doctors also can help parents under stress find respite care and behavioral therapy for their child.11

(Video) How to Treat Anxiety in Children with Autism

Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety

What Anxiety Treatments Work for People with Autism? (5)One anxiety treatment has been studied more often than medication, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT for short. CBT works by helping someone change the distorted thoughts he has about himself and his life. By changing how he interprets any given situation, he can reduce negative feelings and unhealthy responses. CBT has been proven effective in the treatment of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder in people who do not have a developmental disorder.15

Researchers have been testing some changes to CBT to address the communication and social challenges of autism. These modifications may include using pictures, concrete language, lists, videos and social stories, along with tapping into the special interests common to autism.16 An analysis of 14 studies involving a total of 511 youth with "high-functioning" autism found that individual and group CBT therapy worked to reduce anxiety symptoms by a moderate amount.16 Although high-functioning was not defined, the studies all involved youth with an IQ score above 70, the upper limit for intellectual disability. (An intelligence score of 90 to 110 is generally considered average.17) The CBT programs that were studied varied. They had names like Cool Kids, Building Confidence, Exploring Feelings, Coping Cat, and Facing Fears, and they typically lasted from 12 to 16 weeks.16

The Value of Treatment

She is doing more things at home, such as making her lunch for the next day.

Treating anxiety – or any psychiatric condition – is important, perhaps especially so in people with autism. Anxiety could spill over into other aspects of a person's life. For example, people with autism often have unusually low "adaptive skills," the so-called skills of daily living, regardless of their IQ scores. Even those with average to above-average intelligence, and autism, may struggle with basic skills such as showering, riding a bus, crossing the street, shopping, or preparing a meal,18 according to a study of 417 teenagers in the Simons Simplex Collection autism project.

Poor adaptive skills may affect someone's ability to live and work independently in adulthood. It is not clear why everyday living skills would lag far behind intelligence. However, one study of 52 young adults with autism suggested a link to anxiety and depression. The men and women in the study had an average IQ of 110. Those with the lowest adaptive skills also had higher levels of anxiety, depression, or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, according to the researchers, who were based in Washington, DC.19

Susan Gilroy can attest to the value of treating anxiety. As a teenager, her daughter, Lindsay, learned deep breathing and other techniques for managing her symptoms. She also began taking the anti-anxiety drug Buspar. An SSRI medication was later added to address a condition related to obsessive-compulsive disorder. "Overall her functioning has improved so much. I even feel like she has a little more independence. She is doing more things at home, such as making her lunch for the next day," she said. Lindsay Gilroy, now 39, also is more comfortable in restaurants and other public places, which in the past had been stressful for her, her mother said.

Looking for Treatment Providers

What Anxiety Treatments Work for People with Autism? (6)If you suspect an anxiety disorder in yourself, or your child with autism, how do you find treatment? You can start by talking with your primary health care provider, who may refer you to a specialist. Dr. Vasa recommended taking children to a psychiatrist or psychologist, with experience or training in autism, if possible. But she noted that can be difficult due to a shortage of those providers in many parts of the United States. "We need to increase the number of mental health providers trained in working with individuals on the spectrum," she said. She and others are working to increase training in autism and intellectual disability for physicians.

Similarly, many U.S. communities do not have therapists trained in CBT for children or adults with autism. (To find a pediatric or general psychiatrist, psychologist, or CBT therapist near you, see the online tools listed in the Additional Resources section below.)

A Call to Action

In 2016, several dozen health care providers and scientists from multiple countries took part in a survey seeking their priorities for researching anxiety in youth with autism. At the top of their list were: understanding how autism affects treatment for anxiety, implementing treatments that work in "real world settings," developing objective tools for measuring anxiety, and finding ways to separate the sometimes overlapping symptoms of autism and anxiety. The group, led by Dr. Vasa, compiled the results in a recently published article. They concluded, "This study is a call to action for researchers" to work together to increase understanding of anxiety in children and teens with autism.20 People with autism also may heed this call by participating in anxiety research, if they choose. One place to learn about ongoing studies is the U.S. National Institutes of Health website, ClinicalTrials.gov.

(Video) Therapeutic Treatments of Anxiety for Adults with Asperger Autism Profiles

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Additional Resources:

For help finding anxiety treatment, see the following online resources:

  • To locate a CBT provider, see the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies' therapist finder. Search by location and the therapist's specialty, such as autism.
  • The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists has a child and adolescent psychiatrist finder.
  • The American Psychiatric Association has an adult psychiatrist finder.
  • The American Psychological Association Practice Organization has a psychologist finder.
  • IAN's overview of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Advice for primary care providers can be found in this article in Pediatrics, Assessment and Treatment of Anxiety in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. You may share the link with your doctor.
  • See part 1 of this series: Anxiety's Toll on People with Autism.
  • Take our nonscientific poll: Do you or your loved one have both autism and anxiety?

Photo credits: 1) Susan Gilroy, 2) Kennedy Krieger Institute, 3-6) iStock.


  1. Kerns, C. M., Wood, J. J., Kendall, P. C., Renno, P., Crawford, E. A., Mercado, R. J., . . . Storch, E. A. (2016). The treatment of anxiety in autism spectrum disorder (TAASD) study: Rationale, design and methods. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25(6), 1889-1902. doi:10.1007/s10826-016-0372-2 [doi] Abstract.
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
  3. van Steensel, F. J. A., & Heeman, E. J. (2017). Anxiety levels in children with autism spectrum disorder: A meta-analysis. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26(7), 1753-1767. doi:10.1007/s10826-017-0687-7 [doi] Abstract.
  4. Cai, R. Y., Richdale, A. L., Dissanayake, C., & Uljarevic, M. (2017). Brief report: Inter-relationship between emotion regulation, intolerance of uncertainty, anxiety, and depression in youth with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, doi:10.1007/s10803-017-3318-7 [doi] Abstract.
  5. van Steensel, F. J., Bogels, S. M., & Perrin, S. (2011). Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders: A meta-analysis. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14(3), 302-317. doi:10.1007/s10567-011-0097-0 [doi] Abstract.
  6. White, S. W., Oswald, D., Ollendick, T., & Scahill, L. (2009). Anxiety in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Clinical Psychology Review, 29(3), 216-229. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2009.01.003 [doi] Abstract.
  7. Buck, T. R., Viskochil, J., Farley, M., Coon, H., McMahon, W. M., Morgan, J., & Bilder, D. A. (2014). Psychiatric comorbidity and medication use in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(12), 3063-3071. doi:10.1007/s10803-014-2170-2 [doi] Abstract.
  8. Lugnegard, T., Hallerback, M. U., & Gillberg, C. (2011). Psychiatric comorbidity in young adults with a clinical diagnosis of asperger syndrome. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 32(5), 1910-1917. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2011.03.025 [doi] Abstract.
  9. Croen, L. A., Zerbo, O., Qian, Y., Massolo, M. L., Rich, S., Sidney, S., & Kripke, C. (2015). The health status of adults on the autism spectrum. Autism : The International Journal of Research and Practice, 19(7), 814-823. doi:10.1177/1362361315577517 [doi] Abstract.
  10. Vasa, R. A., Carroll, L. M., Nozzolillo, A. A., Mahajan, R., Mazurek, M. O., Bennett, A. E., . . . Bernal, M. P. (2014a). A systematic review of treatments for anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(12), 3215-3229. doi:10.1007/s10803-014-2184-9 [doi] Abstract.
  11. Vasa, R. A., Mazurek, M. O., Mahajan, R., Bennett, A. E., Bernal, M. P., Nozzolillo, A. A., . . . Coury, D. L. (2016). Assessment and treatment of anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 137, S115. View article.
  12. Vasa, R. A., Carroll, L. M., Nozzolillo, A. A., Mahajan, R., Mazurek, M. O., Bennett, A. E., . . . Bernal, M. P. (2014b). A systematic review of treatments for anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(12), 3215-3229. doi:10.1007/s10803-014-2184-9 [doi] Abstract.
  13. Williams, K., Brignell, A., Randall, M., Silove, N., & Hazell, P. (2013). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (8):CD004677. doi(8), CD004677. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004677.pub3 [doi] Abstract.
  14. Walkup, J., & Labellarte, M. (2001). Complications of SSRI treatment. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 11(1), 1-4. doi:10.1089/104454601750143320 [doi] Abstract.
  15. Butler, A. C., Chapman, J. E., Forman, E. M., & Beck, A. T. (2006). The empirical status of cognitive-behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Clinical Psychology Review, 26(1), 17-31. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2005.07.003 Abstract.
  16. Ung, D., Selles, R., Small, B. J., & Storch, E. A. (2015). A systematic review and meta-analysis of cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety in youth with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 46(4), 533-547. doi:10.1007/s10578-014-0494-y [doi] Abstract.
  17. Adesman, A. (2012). Test score guide, north shore-long island jewish health system, inc. Retrieved from https://depts.washington.edu/dbpeds/Screening%20Tools/PsychometricTestScoreGuide(2012-AdesmanLIJ).pdf
  18. Duncan, A. W., & Bishop, S. L. (2015). Understanding the gap between cognitive abilities and daily living skills in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders with average intelligence. Autism : The International Journal of Research and Practice, 19(1), 64-72. doi:10.1177/1362361313510068 [doi] Abstract.
  19. Kraper, C. K., Kenworthy, L., Popal, H., Martin, A., & Wallace, G. L. (2017). The gap between adaptive behavior and intelligence in autism persists into young adulthood and is linked to psychiatric co-morbidities. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(10), 3007-3017. doi:10.1007/s10803-017-3213-2 [doi] Abstract.
  20. Vasa, R. A., Keefer, A., Reaven, J., South, M., & White, S. W. (2017). Priorities for advancing research on youth with autism spectrum disorder and co-occurring anxiety. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, doi:10.1007/s10803-017-3320-0 [doi] Abstract.
(Video) Anxiety in Autism Spectrum Disorders Symptom Evaluation and Medication Treatment
(Video) Anxiety in Individuals with Autism: Part One


What Anxiety Treatments Work for People with Autism? ›

Luvox, Prozac, and Celexa belong to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Decisions about these drugs should be made on "a case-by-case" basis for obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety in adults with autism, the Cochrane reviewers concluded.

Do anxiety meds work for people with autism? ›

For those with autism, anxiety drugs are best used in combination with behavioral interventions. Among high-functioning individuals, they may be particularly effective when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Does Xanax help with autism? ›

It is important to note that while benzodiazepines are sometimes taken to directly treat a related diagnosis such as anxiety disorder or epilepsy, they are not prescribed to treat the core symptoms of ASD.

Do antidepressants help autism? ›

Clinical experience suggests that one type, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs, “are useful and generally safe” in autism, according to an article by psychiatrists at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. SSRIs, which include Prozac and Zoloft, are also used to treat some anxiety disorders.

Do autism and anxiety go together? ›

Although anxiety is not considered a core feature of ASD, 40% of young people with ASD have clinically elevated levels of anxiety or at least one anxiety disorder, including obsessive compulsive disorder.

What is the most common anxiety disorder in ASD? ›

Prevalence studies in children

A recent meta-analysis found that the prevalence of at least one anxiety disorder among children with ASD was 39.6%. Specific phobia (29.8%), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (17.4%) and social anxiety disorder (16.6%) were the most common types [1].

How does Zoloft affect autism? ›

An early case series on the efficacy of sertraline found eight out of nine children with autism (age range: 6–12 years; dose range: 25–50 mg) displayed significant decreases in anxiety, irritability, inflexibility or 'need for sameness' following treatment [91].

Do benzodiazepines help autism? ›

At much higher doses, benzodiazepines treat epilepsy and anxiety in human patients now, including those with autism.

Does anxiety worsen autism? ›

“The standard treatments for autism — speech therapy, occupational therapy, and special education — are not going to target fears and anxiety.” It is important to recognize and treat anxiety, she says. “Anxiety can make autism symptoms worse.

Can anxiety meltdown autism? ›

Minimising triggers

Every autistic person is different, but sensory differences, changes in routine, anxiety, and communication difficulties are common triggers.

Does autism worsen with age? ›

Autism does not change or worsen with age, and it is not curable. Autism isn't like a pair of sneakers that has to be broken in for full comfort, because no matter what you've read, the notion that you'll wake up one day no longer autistic is, was, or will ever be real.

What medication is best for autism? ›

Studies have shown that medication is most effective when it's combined with behavioral therapies. Risperidone (Risperdal) is the only drug approved by the FDA for children with autism spectrum disorder.

Is Ativan good for autism? ›

Clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan) might be used for autism treatment but should not be prescribed for prolonged use. Clonazepam is metabolized by the CYP3A4 liver enzyme, and it can interact with many other medications. About 10% of people have inherently reduced the activity of this enzyme.

What is the best antipsychotic for autism? ›

Recently, risperidone was approved by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of irritability in children and adolescents with autism. This approval is noteworthy because this is the first drug approved for use in autism and the first atypical antipsychotic to be approved for use in children and adolescents.

How does Lexapro help autism? ›

They work by changing your levels of serotonin — a neurotransmitter in the brain believed to be responsible for stabilizing your mood. Research indicates that SSRIs might help reduce the intensity and frequency of these autism-related behaviors: repetitive actions. anxiety.

What does anxiety look like in autism? ›

About anxiety in autistic children and teenagers

These include things like: small disruptions to their routines or new sensations they feel in their bodies. unfamiliar or unpredictable social situations. situations where it's hard to know what other people are thinking or feeling.

What is an autism burnout? ›

''Autistic burnout is a state of physical and mental fatigue, heightened stress, and diminished capacity to manage life skills, sensory input, and/or social interactions, which comes from years of being severely overtaxed by the strain of trying to live up to demands that are out of sync with our needs. ''

How do autistic people cope with stress? ›

Tips for Reducing Stress in Children with Autism
  1. Break down complex tasks. Tasks that have many different parts to them may seem daunting to a child with ASD. ...
  2. Use 'first-then' statements. Sometimes even small tasks can be too much for a child with autism to handle. ...
  3. Adjust sensory levels. ...
  4. Create structure.
Apr 4, 2018

What does anxiety look like in autism? ›

About anxiety in autistic children and teenagers

These include things like: small disruptions to their routines or new sensations they feel in their bodies. unfamiliar or unpredictable social situations. situations where it's hard to know what other people are thinking or feeling.

How do autistic people cope with stress? ›

Tips for Reducing Stress in Children with Autism
  1. Break down complex tasks. Tasks that have many different parts to them may seem daunting to a child with ASD. ...
  2. Use 'first-then' statements. Sometimes even small tasks can be too much for a child with autism to handle. ...
  3. Adjust sensory levels. ...
  4. Create structure.
Apr 4, 2018

What is the best way to calm an autistic child? ›

What to do during a very loud, very public meltdown
  1. Be empathetic. Empathy means listening and acknowledging their struggle without judgment. ...
  2. Make them feel safe and loved. ...
  3. Eliminate punishments. ...
  4. Focus on your child, not staring bystanders. ...
  5. Break out your sensory toolkit. ...
  6. Teach them coping strategies once they're calm.
Apr 18, 2018

Anxiety is not considered a core feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in adults, but generalized anxiety disorder is autism’s most common comorbid condition. Accurately diagnosing and treating anxiety is crucial since it greatly impacts core aspects of ASD, such as repetitive behaviors and social issues.

Though anxiety is not considered a core feature of autism, generalized anxiety disorder is the most common comorbid condition found in adults with autism .. A recent study found that anxiety disorders are diagnosed in more than 20% of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), compared to just 8.7% of neurotypical adults.. Recognizing and treating anxiety in individuals with ASD is particularly important since it can greatly impact core aspects of autism, namely repetitive behaviors and social withdrawal.. Better understanding of how to recognize and treat comorbid anxiety disorders has the potential to improve quality of life for adults with autism and anxiety .. Social anxiety , defined as intense anxiety or fear of being negatively evaluated in a social or performance situation, in turn leads to avoidance of social situations, therefore limiting the patient’s opportunities to practice social skills, and may predispose the individual to negative reactions from peers and even bullying.. Separation anxiety may result from social impairment, which may inspire overprotective reactions from parents that in turn may strengthen avoidance behavior; separation anxiety may then arise when the patient has to separate from attachment figures.

What challenges do people with autism face in getting an anxiety diagnosis and finding treatments tailored to them? This is part two of a two-part series.

Children and adults on the autism spectrum are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than others.. Also, the standard questionnaires and assessments used to diagnose anxiety may not work as well in youth who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD).. To help primary care doctors, Vasa and doctors in the Autism Treatment Network published recommendations for diagnosing and treating anxiety in youth who have autism.. Address medical conditions, such as insomnia, or medications that may fuel anxiety.. Once someone is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the next step is finding treatment.. Do anxiety medications and therapies, which were developed for people who do not have autism, work equally well for people on the spectrum?. Research into anxiety treatments for children and adults on the spectrum is limited.. Of course, that does not mean that effective treatment is not available.. CBT works by helping someone change distorted thoughts he has about himself and his life.. This therapy has been found to be effective for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder in people who do not have autism.. After reviewing studies on anxiety and autism, they recommended focusing more research attention on treatment, particularly for adults and for people who also have intellectual disability.. Many people on the spectrum are able to find anxiety treatments that work for them.. 125 , 692-703 (2016) PubMed Lecavalier L. et al. J. Autism Dev.. 44 , 1128‐1143 (2014) PubMed van Steensel F.J. et al. Clin.

Anxiety and autism commonly overlap, and anxiety can look different for someone with autism. Learn about treatment methods and resources for people with autism who have anxiety.

Anxiety often looks different in someone with autism than it does in someone who does not have the disorder.. Understanding the connection between autism and anxiety, and being able to identify each condition, can help with lowering stress and health risks related to these comorbid disorders.. Someone with autism is more likely to struggle with anxiety than someone without autism.. Fear of social situations (not only related to fears of being bullied).. There are several helpful things that parents and caregivers can do to minimize the likelihood of anxiety in children with autism.. It is important to know your child’s triggers and what can be done to minimize stressors in their life.. Undiagnosed autism can lead to anxiety, as a child struggles to cope with symptoms of a disorder they don’t yet know they have.. CBT can include both group and individual therapy sessions.. During individual sessions, clients can work on specific triggers, reactions, and coping mechanisms.

Anxiety is not considered a core feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in adults, but generalized anxiety disorder is autism’s most common comorbid condition. Accurately diagnosing and treating anxiety is crucial since it greatly impacts core aspects of ASD, such as repetitive behaviors and social issues.

Autism spectrum disorder is generally characterized by social and communication difficulties and by repetitive behaviors.. A recent study found that anxiety disorders are diagnosed in more than 20% of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), compared to just 8.7% of neurotypical adults.. Better understanding of how to recognize and treat comorbid anxiety disorders has the potential to improve quality of life for adults with autism and anxiety .. Few studies have been done discerning whether these drugs are equally effective in adults with ASD.. When treating ASD in adults , medication alone is unlikely to mitigate the symptoms of concern.. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) effectively treats anxiety disorders and OCD in youth with ASD, especially in high-functioning individuals with adequate verbal skills.

Wondering how to help your child with autism reach their full potential? These common autism treatments can improve healthy growth and development.

But it’s important to remember that every child has their own strengths and weaknesses—and a child with autism is no exception.. Not every ASD treatment approach is effective for every child, though.. Some autism therapies focus on reducing problematic behaviors and building communication and social skills, while others deal with sensory integration problems, motor skills, emotional issues, and food sensitivities.. Common autism treatments include behavior therapy, speech-language therapy, play-based therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nutritional therapy.. Behavior therapy is a commonly used ASD treatment that aims to encourage desired behaviors and reduce unwanted behaviors.. Studies show that long-term, intensive therapy can improve a child’s life skills, intellectual abilities, and social skills.. Singing could be used to encourage a child with ASD to vocalize, or a mimicry game could be used to teach the child to identify body parts.. If your child struggles with communication, speech-language therapy can help them improve their verbal and nonverbal skills.. Examples of such devices include a speech-to-text app for a child who struggles with handwriting and a dry-erase board for a child who has difficulty with verbal communication.. Like other autism treatment options, CBT sessions are personalized to meet the child’s needs.. Once your child has an official diagnosis and therapy options are available, don’t hesitate to start treatment.

About 40 percent of people with autism have significant issues with anxiety. Learn about causes, symptoms, and treatments for anxiety in autism.

All of these may be challenges for individuals with autism, although social anxiety disorder appears to be the most common.. However, it is important to recognize the difference between a person on the spectrum with social anxiety and a person on the spectrum who simply enjoys solitude, as many people with autism do.. People with autism may experience anxiety due to the common challenges they face.. This theory makes sense considering the various stresses autistic people face, especially if they are navigating school, work, and various social interactions.. Certainly, this can cause much anxiety.. Social Challenges: Few people on the autism spectrum can accurately gauge a complex social situation and respond appropriately.

IAN, the Interactive Autism Network, allows you to discover the latest autism information and share what you know by participating in research online.

At the autism center where she works, Susan G. Gilroy fields phone calls about anxiety, a disorder that often travels with autism.. If you believe anxiety is part of autism, "there might be a tendency to overlook the anxiety and not treat it," said Roma A. Vasa, a child psychiatrist who specializes in both anxiety and autism.. An anxiety disorder in someone with autism may have the same symptoms as that disorder in a typically-developing person, Dr. Vasa said.. Social anxiety also may look different in autism, and may be confused with a lack of interest in socializing, a common symptom of autism.. Several research studies say that anxiety seems highest in fluent speakers with autism, 2 although fewer studies exist of people with nonverbal autism and anxiety.

Dr. Tony Attwood offers constructive and destructive strategies to use to cope with anxiety caused by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

High levels of anxiety: Often, those with ASD feel highly anxious because of either being a frequent victim of "predators" (especially at school), a fear of failure and ridicule, a lack of clarity on what to do in a new or unanticipated situation (often social), or a combination of the three.. When prone to anxiety, there is a tendency to develop strategies to control everyday experiences that have the potential to trigger greater anxiety, or even panic.. Such strategies can include defiantly refusing to engage in a particular activity, or the use of emotional blackmail, such as threats to damage something or hurt someone, in order to escape having to comply with a request or expectation to participate in an activity that has previously been, or is anticipated to be, a new cause of intense anxiety.. While these strategies can be effective in avoiding anxiety for the person with an ASD, they are not appreciated by typical people, who accuse the person with an ASD of being a control freak or a domestic terrorist.. It is important that the person with an ASD communicates clearly why a particular situation is perceived as creating intense anxiety, and that others work collaboratively with the person to use strategies other than avoidance to alleviate anxiety.. Another effective strategy for managing high levels of anxiety is the use of excessive routines and rituals, which reduce anxiety by being soothing and relaxing.. When the response is fight (as in fighting the tiger that wants to eat you), clearly physically fighting or arguing with someone to absorb the energy is not a wise action for obvious reasons; high levels of anxiety release high levels of energy and strength, and unfortunately the cognitive control of actions (thinking before responding) seems to be switched off when experiencing such intense anxiety.. There are many reasons why someone with an ASD has a special interest (one of the diagnostic criteria), but one of the reasons is that time engaged in the interest may act as a 'thought blocker' to anxious thoughts.. Being so engrossed and hyper-focused on an activity creates a barrier to anxiety and provides time devoid of anxiety.. Having high levels of anxiety is mentally and physically exhausting, which in the long term can contribute to feelings of being emotionally drained.. Although the majority of those who have an ASD will experience high levels of anxiety, we have developed constructive strategies to reduce the intensity and frequency of feeling anxious.. When I talk to my clients who have ASD and are seeking guidance and therapy in managing their anxiety, I often share advice that I have found to be true, "Instead of anxiety controlling you, you can learn to control your anxiety."

Therapies and medications can have a positive impact on people on the autism spectrum, but some can cause harm. Learn which is right for your family.

However, there are therapies and medications that can have a significant positive impact on children and adults on the autism spectrum —as well as therapies and medications that can actually cause harm.. Start as early as possible Are provided intensively (for multiple hours per week) Are based on research Have clear goals and milestones Are provided by a qualified therapist who connects well with the child (and with the parents or guardians) Engage a child in a positive way (the child should enjoy therapy) Address the core symptoms of autism: social skills, sensory dysfunction, emotional regulation, verbal and non-verbal communication, physical challenges, play skills, attentional issues, mood issues, or focus. While there are dozens of autism therapies, only a few are provided through schools or paid for through medical insurance.. While behavioral therapies work on skills and behaviors, developmental therapies can help a child build emotional skills and relationships, expand abstract thinking, and bond with others.. In addition to these particularly popular methods of targeting people with autism or people who have a loved one with autism to spend their money on ineffective treatments, there are dozens of similarly pricey, useless, and potentially risky products available on the market.. Pivotal Response Training: a form of behavioral therapy that is used in natural settings and incorporates some developmental elements Social Stories: a tool created to support social skills training programs Social Thinking: a curriculum created by a well-regarded therapist to work on specific challenges facing autistic children in social settings.. Before diving into any type of autism treatment, always do the following: basic research to be sure the approach is built on a real understanding of autism, ensure the treatment is supported by legitimate research and is provided by well-regarded therapists or professionals.

Current treatments for ASD seek to reduce symptoms

1 ASD affects each person differently, meaning that people with ASD have unique strengths and challenges and different treatment needs.. It is important that providers communicate with each other and the person with ASD and their family to ensure that treatment goals and progress are meeting expectations.. These treatments generally can be broken down into the following categories, although some treatments involve more than one approach:. Behavioral approaches focus on changing behaviors by understanding what happens before and after the behavior.. A notable behavioral treatment for people with ASD is called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) .. ABA encourages desired behaviors and discourages undesired behaviors to improve a variety of skills.. Developmental approaches focus on improving specific developmental skills, such as language skills or physical skills, or a broader range of interconnected developmental abilities.. The most common developmental therapy for people with ASD is Speech and Language Therapy .. Parents and therapists use play, social exchanges, and shared attention in natural settings to improve language, social, and learning skills.. One type of educational approach is the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children (TEACCH) approach.. Social-relational treatments focus on improving social skills and building emotional bonds.. Social Skills Groups provide opportunities for people with ASD to practice social skills in a structured environment.

There are many types of therapy that can help with autism and Asperger's. Some types of therapy focus on managing behavior while others help with social skills.

Treatment may focus on managing behavior issues.. A therapist can help your child learn to manage behavior issues.. Make sure to find a therapist that understands ASD.. This is no different for people with autism.. Family therapy helps some families cope with these issues.. Group therapy can also be helpful for parents of children with autism.. Talk therapy can help people with autism.. It may help children and adults with ASD address social isolation.. A treatment that addresses both autism and the health issue can be helpful.. The therapist helps David understand he can choose to get along with others.. David also starts to work on his social skills.. David's therapist also works with his parents.. Understanding autism: How family therapists can support parents of children with autism spectrum disorders.. The effectiveness of parent–child interaction therapy for families of children on the autism spectrum.

This resource, part of the Be Well, Think Well resource collection, provides information about managing anxiety, tips on how to face your fears, various types of therapies for anxiety, different relaxation techniques, medication for treating anxiety and depression, and way to find a therapist for an individual with autism.

Some people have fears and things that make them feel anxious.. Over time and with practice, the person can apply these relaxation techniques when they start feeling anxious, without having to think about using them.. There are many types of relaxation techniques that are used to help anxiety and stress.. Don’t just think of the place briefly, but imagine every detail about it.. You might feel like you can’t breathe.. Relax Your Body It’s sometimes easier to relax your body than it is to relax your mind.. Relaxation techniques can help your body relax and calm your mind.. Name four things you can feel.. Maybe it’s a beach, a forest, or a special place you go that makes you feel calm.. Anxiety Some medicines for anxiety work the first time you take it.

Kids with autism often experience anxiety due to sensory overload and an inability to self-regulate. Here are 10 tips to help prevent and manage anxiety in kids with autism.

If you’re a parent of a child with autism, you have spent much time trying to understand the subtleties of what causes or contributes to his stressful, anxious responses.. These responses could be outward signs of anxiety like: increased stimming, self-injurious behavior, bolting/eloping/running away, repetitive behaviors, or verbal responses.. Children with autism can experience anxiety just as typically developing children do.. Because of the communication difficulties associated with a diagnosis of ASD, the way these feelings of anxiety manifest may look different, as will the strategies to support the child.. To better understand the connections between autism and anxiety, it is important to consider your child’s sensory system and how sensory overload may be contributing to his overall behavioral and emotional regulation.. Meltdowns are reactions to feeling overwhelmed and are often seen as a result of sensory overstimulation.. When a person experiences too much sensory stimulation, their central nervous system is overwhelmed and unable to process all of the input.. It’s a physiological ‘traffic jam’ in your central nervous system and the sensory overstimulation causes a physiological response and sometimes even a sensory meltdown .. Because many children with autism are unable to self-regulate, sensory overload can result in sensory-based meltdowns .. When people with autism experience sensory overstimulation, they are unable to regulate the sensory inputs from their environment and their bodies perceive these inputs as threats.. Some parents find it helpful to schedule “quiet time” for their child, in order to allow for the downtime proactively before the activity of the day gets to be too much.. This can be very helpful in situations where sensory overload contributes to anxiety.. Create a portable sensory toolbox to reduce sensory sensitivities and improve tolerance to stressful, noxious situations.. Kids with autism experience anxiety as many typical children do, but the way that the anxiety manifests or is expressed looks different based on individual communication and sensory processing skills associated with an autism diagnosis.

Autism can come with a range of challenges, but receiving the right support and developing coping skills can help you live your best life.

If you’re autistic, there may be times when you want help and support.. You may have been diagnosed young and have a lot of experience with autism interventions.. Knowing about useful strategies not only helps you, but it also benefits the people in your life who want to offer you their support, too.. Therapy is a powerful tool for the support of many issues.. Most people have had a time in their life when therapy might have helped them.. Therapy for adults with autism can help with autistic traits as well as other diagnoses you may have.. Some autistic people have restricted diets.. Spending some time moving can improve both overall health and sleep.. This isn’t as simple as it sounds, if you’re among the 79% of autistic people who experience disrupted sleep.. keeping a consistent sleep routine having an earlier cut off time for screens exercising during the day avoiding caffeine past noon having calming sensory input, like a weighted blanket. Living in a world designed for allistic people has its challenges.. In addition to structure, there are a few simple things to try that have helped others:. Weighted blankets provide gentle and calming pressure throughout the night to ease anxiety and improve sleep.. The ability to relax can be a useful tool when you’ve had a stressful day.. When you’re calm and not triggered, it helps to make the people in your life aware of the things that might upset you.

Autism treatment often involves a combination of different therapies. For some, medication may also play a role. We’ll go over all the different options that can help to manage autism symptoms. You’ll also learn some tips for navigating the world of alternative autism treatments safely.

Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that impacts the way a person behaves, socializes, or interacts with others.. It’s now treated as a condition with a wide-ranging spectrum of symptoms and severity.. Still, many of the options designed for children can help adults as well.. Positive behavior support.. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that can be effective in helping children and adults.. Social skills training (SST) is a way for people, especially children, to develop social skills.. SIT tries to even out a person’s response to sensory stimulation.. Speech therapy teaches verbal skills that can help people with autism communicate better.. It can also help adults improve how they communicate about thoughts and feelings.. There aren’t any medications specifically designed to treat autism.. However, several medications used for other conditions that may occur with autism might help with certain symptoms.. While many people with autism take antidepressants, researchers aren’t yet sure whether they actually help with autism symptoms.. Work closely with a doctor when looking into alternative options.

Anxiety and Autism in chidlren and adolescents: 24 ANXIETY TRIGGERS for Autistic Kids and Teens + 23 effective CALMING DOWN STRATEGIES.

difficulties understanding: social situations and expectations social communication. What is anxiety 24 Anxiety triggers for teens with autism Autism and social anxiety 25 Calming strategies for anxious kids with autism Energy account technique. We brainstormed about stressful situations and anxiety triggers for our kids.. Autism and Social Anxiety: Performance anxiety / Speaking in front of their peers Being in a group of people Getting a strong reaction from another person Not understanding what you are expected to do Being addressed by a stranger Talking on the phone Being asked questions New social events Using public transport. Other Anxiety Triggers: Sensing stress or big emotions in others Not being able to complete a task or activity that he/she had started Making mistakes Changes / Unexpected changes / Changes in their routines Not receiving immediate attention Not being acknowledged Criticism Demands (even the most simple ones) Feeling unprepared New places. If you re-read the anxiety triggers list, you will see a clear and important theme: socially related triggers.. Many teens with ASD are aware of their social difficulties and experience social anxiety.. Creating a calming room / relaxing room / thinking space / quiet space, where your kid can go to wind down Creating routines at home that minimize stress A calming box Time alone (“Do you think you need a moment on your own?”) Adapting communication: express yourself calmly and allow extra processing time Listening to music Drawing Reading a book Audiobooks. Relaxation audio Pacing while talking out loud to yourself Sensory strategies like a weighted vest or lying under a weighted blanket (you may wish to read what I did wrong and avoid my mistake ⇒ in my post about weighted blankets ) Thinking putty Talking through the stuff that is bothering them Listening to stories Writing worries on a piece of paper and disposing of it Passing worries to a favorite soft toy Physical activity Playing games they like (so many of the kids in our group loved Minecraft!). Your kid may be eager to participate in social situations (like a birthday party) but feel anxious about what to do if it gets too overwhelming.. Identifying a person who will be responsible for checking regularly on your kid as to make sure the social situations is not overwhelming Identifying a room or space where your kid will be able to go if the social situation becomes too difficult or demanding.. Professor Tony Attwood uses an “energy bank account” concept to propose a strategy that may help autistic kids (or adults) cope better with the high-stress levels that simple everyday activities and tasks may induce.

by Guy Shahar

I was struck by how much this chimes with the experience of Naoki Higashida, as expressed in The Reason I Jump :. Every time us people with autism do something that other people wouldn’t, it must make you wonder why.. Do people with autism possess different senses?. Or do these actions just give us some sort of kick?. The problem comes when parents seek advice about these behavioural manifestations and are offered “strategies” to deal with them at the surface level on which they occur.. Many people find these sorts of strategies to be helpful in managing some of the issues they are having with their children as they arise.. I grew up at a time when autism wasn’t generally recognised unless it was catastrophically incapacitating, so I didn’t benefit from early intervention, but have been very fortunate in my adult life to have had an opportunity to transcend most of the difficulties – in my case through Heartfulness – so that my once-defining autism is now barely noticeable (except by other autistic people or those who understand them very well).. Parents, schools and so on tend not to get much co-operation from the child when they see their behaviours as problems and use “strategies” aimed at working towards “normalising” them.. If we can show them that we appreciate the anxiety behind their behaviours and that we are there to help them, or at least to stand by them with confidence and compassion and without judgement, then we give them the opportunity to feel not only well-cared for, but also well-understood, which is critical and the absence of which is itself a major source of anxiety.

Autism Point share the strategies to help your child to control the anxiety in autism. Autism Point spreads the awareness, advocacy and training.

The good news about taking this into consideration is that for children, caregivers, and teachers, being able to understand how anxiety plays a part in the experience can help you and your child communicate needs, prepare ahead of time, and learn coping strategies that can help calm anxiety and make childhood more enjoyable.. Many children with autism report anxiety around the following challenges: making friends, misunderstanding social cues and not being able to express oneself clearly, misunderstanding what is asked or expected in school, and an inability to complete a task correctly.. Because children with autism are frequently visual learners it can help children understand a social story by providing a set of cards indicating next steps.. You each need clarity and understanding of the child’s experience and what is being communicated to the child when he or she is not in your care.. Also, if you have a method that works well with the child, or if the child is struggling, sharing this with the other caregivers can only benefit the child and his or her care.. Often children with autism will act out or behave disruptively when they are struggling with anxiety or stressors in their environment.

People with autism have higher rates of depression than others. What treatments are being used with them?

Thanks to research, we know more about depression in children and adults with autism than we used to know.. 2 As of September 2020, no one has completed and published a randomized controlled trial of antidepressants for treating depression in children and adolescents who have autism, she says.. Counseling Cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps someone change their distorted thoughts Mindfulness therapy, which involves breathing and relaxation techniques.. Other possible side effects of these drugs include suicidal thoughts and behaviors in teenagers, or a worsening of mood problems in people who have bipolar disorder.. When evaluating depressed patients, psychiatrists consider whether they may have bipolar disorder.. Bipolar disorder involves periods of depression and mania.. Bipolar depression is often treated with different medicines than those used to treat major depression.. Unlike medication, there is more research into non-drug therapies for children and adults who have autism.. 14 Other small studies showed that CBT held promise for treating autistic adolescents or adults with depression.. One study of autistic adults in the Netherlands suggested that a mindfulness therapy that was adapted for autism was helpful.. Some researchers have called for more studies of medication for depression to help people across the broad autism spectrum.. 64 , 47-55 (2017) PubMed Spek A.A. Res.

Non-medical interventions are the treatment of choice for autism spectrum disorder, but medication may also help children and adults get symptoms of ASD under control.

ASD is a lifelong condition that causes difficulties with social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.. It cannot be cured, but ASD may be managed effectively with three main types of treatment: educational/behavioral interventions, medication, and alternative therapies.. Behavioral therapy is the mainstay treatment for children with autism.. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help to manage obsessive behavior and anxiety.. Physical exercise is also a good intervention for children on the autism spectrum who seem to have boundless energy.. Stimulants are the most common class of medications used to treat ADHD.. The latter medication is the only one of the three that is FDA-approved for treating behaviors associated with autism.. Every child with autism will benefit from the support of a developmental and behavioral pediatrician or a child psychiatrist with training in the autism spectrum.. Music therapy can help improve social and communication skills for people with ASD, when paired with other educational and therapy interventions, according to some studies 1 .. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce repetitive behavior, hyperactivity, and social skills in some small studies.. Yoga can help some to increase their sense of well-being while decreasing anxiety.. Similar to treatment for sensory processing disorder, sensory therapies for ASD are done by an occupational therapist, who can help retrain the senses.

With over 23 coping strategies and activities for kids, we’re sharing our best tips and strategies to help children with anxiety and autism deal with the feelings of anxiety, stress, and nervousness they often experience at home and in the classroom.

There are heaps of articles and blog posts citing the undeniable relationship between the two, and while it can be difficult to distinguish which behaviors are the result of autism, which are due to feelings of anxiety and stress, and which are a combination of the two, there is some pretty compelling evidence suggesting that individuals with autism are more likely than their neurotypical peers to develop anxiety orders over the course of their lives.. Of course, it can be difficult to distinguish if the behaviors a child is exhibiting are a result of anxiety, autism, or a combination of both – only a trained professional can accurately make that distinction – but for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on anxiety and autism and the best coping strategies.. Like autism, anxiety lives on a spectrum, with some kids showing only a couple of symptoms, and others displaying many, and when it comes to autism and anxiety, a child may show additional symptoms, such as:. If your child struggles with a specific fear or phobia, exposure therapy is another effective natural remedy for anxiety in children with autism.. The idea is to exposure the child to each fear – starting with the least anxiety-producing situation first – and have the child stay within the fear-inducing situation until her anxiety comes down.. The calming effects of lavender oil can help kids sleep better, bergamot oil is a powerful relaxant and can reduce nervous tension, anxiety, and stress, roman chamomile oil can reduce mental anxiety, paranoia, and hostility, and is also a great stress-buster that has been found to help with insomnia and muscle tension, and jasmine oil works to regulate feelings of stress, anxiety, and over-excitement in the brain.. As tempting as it is to diminish your child’s anxiety by telling her to stop worrying – and as difficult as it is to keep your patience in check when your child repeatedly gets worked up over something seemingly inconsequential to you – it’s important to remember that your child’s fears are very real and scary to her.. Talking through feelings of anxiety can be helpful, but if your child has a tendency to fixate on something that is causing her anxiety, and you find that her anxiety increases the more you discuss it, consider a ‘one and done’ approach whereby you discuss the issue once, and then table it for a later time.. Teaching your child with anxiety and autism how to relax and take care of herself will not only help her find ways to cope with her emotions, but will also teach her how to prevent anxiety from occurring in the first place.. I hope these strategies and activities help inspire you to find different ways to help your child with anxiety and autism, and if I can leave you with one more piece of advice when it comes to helping a child with big worries, it’s this: be there for her.

Anxiety can assume unusual forms in people with autism — turning uncertainty, or even a striped couch, into a constant worry. New tools may help identify these hidden fears.

All his mother can do is wonder — and try to make his evening better.. And it came to the point where he had to be institutionalized,” his mother says.. Kerns and others are working on new ways to measure both ordinary and unusual forms of anxiety in people with autism.. But the overlap in features between the two conditions makes diagnosing anxiety extremely difficult.. Based on their findings, Scahill and his colleagues decided to talk to parents as part of their efforts to develop a measure of anxiety specific to children with autism.. In 2014, Kerns and her colleagues developed an adapted version of the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule (ADIS) — a one- to two-hour clinical interview with both parents and children, designed to flag anxiety.. So Kerns and her colleagues expanded their ‘ASD-specific addendum’ to flag non-traditional anxiety traits that the standard screen might miss: fear of novelty or uncertainty; fear of social situations for reasons other than social ridicule; excessive worry about being able to engage in a special interest; and unusual phobias.. A team of researchers, including Storch and Kerns, plans to compare the modified version with other therapies in children with autism in a 16-week trial of 180 children.. It is possible that the children who have non-traditional anxiety will benefit the most from a modified treatment, Kerns says.

Though autism has no cure, there are many therapies that reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. Learn which ones are proven to help.

What does an occupational therapist do?. By working on these skills during occupational therapy, a child with autism may be able to:. What role does speech therapy play in the treatment of autism?. Speech therapy can improve overall communication.. Association for Play Therapy: “Find a play therapist,” “Play therapy makes a difference.”

People suffering from an anxiety disorder have a wide assortment of treatment options. Discover the many types of treatments and how each one may help you.

A process group may be a good fit for people with social anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).. Primary care physicians can diagnose and treat anxiety, but they may recommend that you consult a psychiatrist for severe or treatment-resistant anxiety disorders.. SSRIs may be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder , social anxiety disorder (SAD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).. Typically used to treat cardiac conditions, beta-blockers like atenolol and propranolol 1 may be prescribed to a patient with social anxiety disorder specifically in performance situations, such as speaking in public, rather than as a long-term treatment.. Currently, ketamine 2 is receiving increased scholarly interest as a potential treatment for depression 3 and anxiety; the FDA gave it priority status 4 as a treatment for depression, and some physicians have been using it as an off-label 5 treatment for anxiety.. A doctor may also consider an off-label use of a drug specified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as effective for a condition other than an anxiety disorder or one that is approved outside the United States.. Although still in the initial stages of research, DBS may also be an effective treatment for PTSD 9 . rTMS: Most researched for OCD, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation delivers magnetic field pulses to the brain via an electrode 10 placed on the patient's scalp.. rTMS is increasingly being considered and studied 11 as a treatment for other anxiety disorders including panic disorder, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder.. Other Brain Stimulation Therapies : Additional therapies include transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), transcranial electrical stimulation (tES), and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).. Because anxiety-specific studies on these procedures are scarce, they are not considered first-line treatments for anxiety disorders; however, ongoing research suggests that these may provide further options for treating generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder.. Meditation and Mindfulness : Although separate concepts, meditation and mindfulness are often practiced together, especially for the treatment of anxiety.. Herbal Supplements : Scientific research on herbal supplements as anxiety treatments have been limited and inconclusive.

Whilst not cure is available for autism, several therapies can really make a positive difference, teaching skills and coping strategies.

Support for autism involves addressing the needs of the person and helping them to overcome any difficulties arising, such as communication or interaction struggles.. Working with a psychologist or psychotherapist, autistic people can learn new, life-long coping skills to help them overcome some of the challenges that autism can present.. Sometimes it is a matter of exploring issues with the autistic person and learning behaviours or skills which will make things easier for them to get on in relationships or at work.. Other times, therapy and psychology can make a big difference to the person’s mental health – autistic people often have other mental health conditions that can be made worse if they feel misunderstood, lonely or unsure on how to best act in a way that will help them lead happy fulfilling lives.. Autistic people may have emotional problems (bullying or loneliness being prominent) and, although these issues are experienced by lots of people, they may be provoked by any social exclusion, misunderstanding or hostility that some autistic people experience from others.. CBT can be very successful in helping the individual overcome some of the negative thought patterns they may adopt and as a result can improve feelings of depression , anxiety and low self worth.. Once symptoms of anxiety or depression are improved, other characteristics of autism may change – for instance any restrictive or repetitive behaviours may lessen.. There is a growing body of evidence to support the effectiveness of different types of social skills training in people with autism and Asperger’s.. Typically, social skills interventions are facilitated by a therapist and may involve training peers, siblings, or parents to interact with the autistic person in ways that build understanding.. The autism test is an easy and anonymous way of finding out if the symptoms you are struggling with and how you are feeling is a result of autism.. No medication has been found to improve the symptoms which autistic people experience, and the main aim of medication is to treat the comorbidities associated with autism, e.g. depression, anxiety or ADHD.. If medication is needed then it can make a big difference to the overall health and wellbeing of the autistic person – they may find it easier to cope in certain situations and may find that some of the common characteristics, such as restricted or repetitive behaviours lessen.


1. Do YOU Need AUTISM Medication?
(The Aspie World)
2. Autism Depression and Anxiety
3. Building Bridges: Anxiety Treatments for Children and Adolescents w/ Autism Spectrum Disorder
(ADAA GotAnxiety)
4. Understanding Autistic Mental Health
5. S. Brice- What do autistic people with anxiety tell us about existing interventions?
(Autism- Europe)
6. New autism treatment
(WTKR News 3)

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