Recruitment And Eligibility Criteria
Inclusion criteria for participation in the trial include: an autism spectrum diagnosis given by an NHS clinical team aged 18 years or older resident in the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear area an ability to provide informed consent and the verbal comprehension skills required to participate in interviews, talking therapy and the completion of questionnaires. Participants will also be identified as experiencing clinically significant anxiety by an NHS clinician. Intellectual ability will not be formally assessed so the trial is in line with NHS clinical practice where clinicians take pragmatic decisions about treatment and peoples abilities to engage in treatment, rather than basing treatment access on cognitive assessment scores. Participants with co-existing physical and/or mental health conditions will not be excluded unless these conditions significantly affect capacity to engage in the psychological therapy delivered as part of this study. Participants will not be excluded on the basis of having received previous or ongoing pharmacological treatments for anxiety.
Comorbid Anxiety & Autism
Studies show that around 40% of people with an autism spectrum disorder also have at least one anxiety disorder. When two disorders occur in the same person at the same time, this is called comorbid disorders.
The actual prevalence of anxiety with autism is difficult to quantify since anxiety is often overlooked in someone with autism. Recent studies are showing the overlap more and more, however.
Autism and anxiety involve similar regions of the brain. Both conditions have genetic and environmental risk factors, but they likely do not just happen to co-occur. Someone with autism is more likely to struggle with anxiety than someone without autism.
Symptoms of autism that exacerbate stress levels can lead to anxiety. This can then increase rates of anxiety in this population over the general public.
The most common anxiety disorders in someone with autism are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder.
- Difficulties leaving a parent or caregiver.
- Hypersensitivity to specific stimuli.
How Is Autism Treated
There are many effective approaches to managing or treating autism. Early intervention with highly structured behavioral, cognitive, and communication therapies can sometimes dramatically help children with autism learn skills. School-based educational programs designed for children with autism can be effective in improving intellectual functioning. However, some children with autism will never be able to communicate or live independently as adults.
Programs that make use of applied behavior analysis have become widely accepted as the standard of treatment. In the most effective programs, parents are encouraged to be highly involved in their children’s care.
While no medication can eliminate the impairments common to autism, psychoactive drugs including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants are often prescribed to help control specific symptoms.
There are also many alternative treatments promoted to parents of children with autism, such as facilitated communication and auditory integration training, to name a few many have been shown to be ineffective. It is important for parents of children with autism to look into prospective treatments as thoroughly as possible.
On This Page
Read Also: Freddie Highmore Autism
Assessment For Autism Diagnosis
A formal diagnosis is done by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or neuropsychologist who does adult ASD assessments. A good place to start to find such a person is through your local autism society or by contacting the governing body for that profession. Most have a college or association and they may be able to provide you with some names of people in your area. You can also ask around, maybe through members of a support group. How did they get their diagnosis who did it? If there is a local university or medical teaching hospital, there may be a psychology department you can be referred to.
If a formal assessment is too expensive, contact the local autism society or services organization to see if they have someone on staff or a consulting psychologist. Some universities, hospitals or clinical centers offer assessments by supervised graduate students who need practical experience in diagnosing. If you are in on-going therapy for other issues, a therapist may suggest the possibility of ASD and be willing to give a diagnosis.
Keep in mind that there is no standardized screening tool tailored to adults that is universally endorsed. Some of the autism tests specifically designed for adults are: ADOS 2 Module 4, ADI-R, 3Di Adult, OCI-R, AFQ, SRS 2, RAADS-14, AdAS Spectrum.
How To Treat Children With Autism: 23 Recommendations
Learning how to treat children with autism is essential for their education, future, wellbeing and the quality of life of their family. Outlined below are 23 recommendations that will help you with this task.
When a family finds out that their child has autism, some of their first questions may include how to deal with them, how to look after them, the best way of communicating with them and the best methods of education.
Every person with autism is different, but there are some general guidelines that will help build positive relationships.
Don’t Miss: What Are Good Toys For Autistic Toddlers
Managing Ocd In Autistic Children
Research is ongoing to discern the environmental risk factors for OCD. However, we know that because it is an anxiety disorder, it can be triggered by prolonged and pronounced stress. Increased anxiety can lead to OCD behaviors as well as emotional and physical outbursts.
For parents, keeping your child safe is the first concern. To do this, the goal is to keep your child calm and reduce potential stressors.
Here are some tips:
Talk to your childs doctor about your concerns if you suspect OCD, autism, or both. Early intervention and treatment for autism can help to reduce anxiety as well as manage symptoms of autism. This translates to a better overall quality of life and a higher degree of productivity and functioning.
Newly Diagnosed Adult With Autism Seeks Therapy Advice
Im a newly diagnosed 47-year-old with autism. What kind of treatments can help me?
Todays Got Questions? answer is from psychologist Megan Farley of the Waisman Center for developmental disabilities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Farley received an Autism Speaks research grant to study the factors that help or hinder the development and success of adults with autism.
This is both a great question and a difficult one to answer. Currently we have far too little in the way of evidence-based treatments for adults with autism spectrum disorder .
We have a small handful of treatment strategies that have been clinically evaluated and found to be effective for helping adolescents and young adults with autism. At the University of Texas, for example, researchers have successfully used a virtual reality training program to improve social skills among young adults with autism. The PEERS program has likewise shown promise for teaching social skills to young adults with autism.
For live help with these resources, you can call or email the Autism Speaks Autism Response Team and ask for its adult-services specialist: 888-288-4762 or .
General guidelines for finding the help you needBeyond autism-specific programs and therapies, I can offer you some general recommendations based on my clinical experience, that of my colleagues and that of the many adults with autism with whom Ive had the privilege to work.
Read Also: What Colors Represent Autism
How To Help Adults With Anxiety
Adults with autism are more likely to also battle depression and/or anxiety than their peers without autism. Adults face different issues than children do, and anxiety can manifest differently in adults with autism.
Some typical symptoms of anxiety for adults with autism can include:
- Incessant worry about personal health.
- Fear of the unknown.
- Stress over events and things that are out of their control.
- Forgetting how to act in everyday situations.
- Difficulties identifying feelings.
Adults with autism often struggle with lingering anxiety worrisome thoughts and stress that persist for at least 10 minutes. Anxiety in adults can increase the risk for depression and self-harming behaviors. It can also increase physical health issues and decrease a persons ability to function in everyday life.
For adults with autism, increased structure and stress management techniques can help to manage anxiety. Exercise, proper nutrition, and sleep schedules can all help to lower the frequency and severity of anxiety. Holistic measures, such as mindfulness meditation and yoga, are also helpful.
Adults can benefit from social skills groups and peer support groups that are focused on both autism and anxiety. While these groups wont replace traditional treatment, they can be a solid addition to other interventions and therapies.
Is There A Cure For Autism
Autism cannot be cured with a treatment, intervention, or medication. But various therapies can help many children improve social and communication skills, reduce repetitive behaviors, and function well in daily life.
Assessing the success of treatment is complicated by the diverse experiences of those on the spectrum. Some may have mild social discomfort, embrace routine and stability, or leverage their passion into a career. Others may have an intellectual disability or struggle with violent outbursts. Most fall somewhere in between. The success of treatment can vary with the condition.
Read Also: Is The Good Doctor Actor Really Autistic
Treating Anxiety & Autism With Modified Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
The standard for treating anxiety and autism at the same time is a modified version of cognitive behavioral therapy . CBT can help to break cycles of anxiety, and the modified version for autism adds in a progressive exposure therapy technique.
CBT aims to identify the root of the stressor, helping people to recognize what is causing their anxiety. Once the particular trigger is found, practical methods are devised to address it.
Anxiety is typically a fear that is irrational or prolonged in light of the actual danger that exists. CBT can help to dismiss these fears by pointing them out logically. Sessions may also examine the way that feelings, thoughts, and bodily responses are connected to actions.
CBT can include both group and individual therapy sessions. During individual sessions, clients can work on specific triggers, reactions, and coping mechanisms. Group sessions often include life skills training and the development of tools to manage stress and anxiety. In group sessions, clients also learn from the shared experiences of others with autism who also struggle with anxiety.
The second part of CBT for comorbid autism and anxiety includes learning how to face fears head on through direct exposure. The buildup will be gradual, helping a person to tolerate the feared event, action, or sensation for a short period of time and then progressing to longer and longer time periods. Coping skills are taught, so clients can manage this exposure to stressful stimuli.
Can Autism In Adults Be Diagnose
Most cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder are diagnosed by the age of 2. The main problem is that there is no established procedure for diagnosing Autism in adults. So, autism specialist for adults is hard to find, and therefore Autism in adults diagnosis is difficult. The best option is to find a childs doctor and begin there. He might use a childrens checklist because many of the symptoms are the same in both, like repetitive behavior, obsession with daily routine, and difficulty with social interaction. To know whether an Autism in adults can be diagnosed or not? you should get a formal assessment from a team of healthcare professionals.
Also Check: Autism Mild
Autism And Anxiety In Adults: Next Steps
1Rosenn, Daniel. Is It Aspergers or ADHD?. Aspergers/ Autism Network. .
2Sarris, Marina. Anxietys Toll on People with Autism. Interactive Autism Network .
3Sarris, Marina. Anxietys Toll on People with Autism. Interactive Autism Network .
4Burchi, Elisabetta, Hollander, Eric. Anxiety in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
5Sarris, Marina. What Anxiety Treatments Work for People With Autism. Interactive Autism Network
6Burchi, Elisabetta, Hollander, Eric. Anxiety in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
7Anxiety in Autistic Adults. National Autistic Society.
Success In Autistic Adults
While it’s relatively rare, quite a few adults with diagnosed autism are moderately to extremely successful people. Some are happily married and partnered, and many are fully employed.
Quite a few have become role models for young adults on the spectrum who hope to live full, independent lives. Just a few such role models include:
- Temple Grandin, animal husbandry expert, author, and public speaker
- Stephen Shore, author, musician, professor, public speaker
- John Elder Robison, author, and public speaker
- Dan Ackroyd, actor, singer, radio personality
- Daryl Hannah, actor
These individuals and with many others are active autism advocates. Many speak publicly about their experiences and offer resources and insights both to autistic adults and to their family members.
You May Like: Is The Good Doctor Actor Really Autistic
Managing Anxiety In Children With Autism
Autism can interfere with a childs ability to communicate and socialize effectively. This can then increase stress levels and therefore the risk for anxiety. 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 childs triggers and what can be done to minimize stressors in their life. If your child is hypersensitive to bright lights, for example, keeping the lights low can help. Likewise, investing in noise-cancelling headphones for outings can help to limit sensory overload and exposure to loud sounds. Both of these practices can help to decrease stress and related anxiety.
Here are other tips for minimizing anxiety with autism:
Undiagnosed autism can lead to anxiety, as a child struggles to cope with symptoms of a disorder they dont yet know they have. To prevent anxiety from escalating, early diagnosis of autism and enrollment in an early intervention program is important.
Parents are the number one advocates for their children. If you are concerned about autism symptoms, anxiety symptoms, or both, talk to your childs doctor as soon as possible. Take note of behavior changes, mood swings, shifts in eating and sleeping habits, and difficulties at school or with learning. Be sure to share these observations with your pediatrician.
Working With Adults On The Autism Spectrum
- Dont Force Communication
- Respect Their Desire For Personal Space
- Stay Calm
- Keep Things Consistent
Dont Force Communication
The autism spectrum actually refers to a range of disorders. Each disorder has its own specific symptoms and they are sub-classified to make the diagnosis process easier. Some of these disorders have common traits, such as the struggle to communicate. Autistic adults on the higher end of the spectrum are able to speak with a very high level of vocabulary while those on the lower end may only use sounds to communicate. Some may even be completely non-verbal. When working with adults on the autism spectrum it is important to allow ample time when communicating. Keep sentences short and concise. It is best to avoid use of sarcasm as autistic individuals are typically very literal and do understand it.
Respect Their Desire For Personal Space
Autistic adults experience sensory overload from stimuli that most individuals would generally find comfortable. It is important to understand autistic individuals do not enjoy common physical gestures such as hugs or pats on the back. In fact, this can lead to the equivalent of a panic attack for them. Kindness should be shown in other ways, such as verbal praise or small gifts.
Keep Things Consistent
Read Also: Are Stuttering And Autism Related
Intervention Programs To Cure Autism
In early intervention programs, therapists come at home in order to deliver services related to behavior during autism disorder. An early intensive inspection of behavior includes a childs entire family, working closely with an expert team.
It can also involve parental leading therapy sessions under the complete supervision of the therapist.
Due to these programs, the child started developing good social and learning skills. Adolescents with autism enjoy transition services that promote a roaring maturation into independence and employment opportunities of adulthood.
Living With Adult Autism Tip : Improve Communication And Relationships
If other people have a hard time reading and understanding youand you themyoull likely have difficulty with relationships. But you can still find ways to nurture a healthy social life.
Consider disclosing your diagnosis. Talking about your diagnosis can be difficult and the social stigma attached to ASD may make you shy away from doing so. While disclosure is entirely up to you and your comfort level, it may help improve some relationships. Letting close friends and family know about your diagnosis can help them understand why you have a hard time interpreting their sarcastic comments, for example, or why youre distressed by sounds that seem normal to everyone else.
Note when youre experiencing sensory overload. Perhaps you find it difficult to keep up with everything thats going on in an intense group conversation. Or maybe something as simple as loud traffic or a barking dog is bothering you. Do what you can to minimize distractions. This might involve switching rooms or leaving a larger group for a one-on-one chat.
Look for common ground with the person youre talking to. Establishing commonalities can lead to more relaxed and enjoyable conversations. If you have similar hobbies, thats, of course, great news. Otherwise, you can look for other things you both like or dislike. This could be anything from a shared interest in cars to a shared dislike for loud noises.
Support groups for adults with autism
Also Check: Visual Calendar Autism
Diagnosis Of Autism In Adults
There are currently no standard diagnostic criteria for adults with suspected ASD, but they are in development.
In the meantime, clinicians primarily diagnose adults with ASD through a series of in-person observations and interactions. They also take into consideration any symptoms the person reports experiencing.
If youre interested in being evaluated for ASD, begin with your family doctor, who will evaluate you to be certain that there isnt an underlying physical illness accounting for your behaviors. Your doctor may then refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for in-depth assessment.
The clinician will want to talk with you about any issues you have regarding communication, emotions, behavioral patterns, range of interests, and more. Youll answer questions about your childhood, and your clinician might request to speak with your parents or other older family members to gain their perspectives about your lifelong behavior patterns.
If the diagnostic criteria for children are being used for reference, your clinician can ask your parent questions from that list, relying on their memories of you as a child for further information.
If your clinician determines that you didnt display symptoms of ASD in childhood, but instead began experiencing symptoms as a teen or adult, you may be evaluated for other possible mental health or affective disorders.
Because most autism diagnoses are made in children, it could be a challenge to find a provider who will diagnose adults.