Understanding Anxiety and Autism
It is estimated that up to 90% of autistic children and young people experience anxiety. Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, from avoidant behaviour to retreating into a fantasy world, or even aggressive behaviours. Anxiety rarely has a single trigger in autistic children, and is likely to be a response to challenges across numerous areas. If your child is experiencing frequent shut downs and / or meltdowns caused by anxiety, reducing the triggers and developing coping strategies can help your child feel safer in their day to day life.
Typical approaches for understanding and responding to anxiety are often not helpful for autistic children. Attempting to explore feelings or discuss the issues in detail may not be possible, or may cause further anxiety and distress.
We approach anxiety by first finding out about your child, what their strengths and difficulties are, and how the world appears to them.
We then explore the potential triggers for the anxiety. We consider all the areas of difference in autism including attention, sensory and cognitive processing differences.
Once the triggers are identified, we provide parents with practical advice on how to reduce or avoid them. If required, we provide advice to other people involved in supporting the child, such as teachers. At times, a bad experience or misunderstanding can be a contributing factor. When this is the case, we develop personalised resources to help the child overcome these experiences.
When triggers have been reduced, we focus on developing coping skills. By developing a series of resources and a structured plan, parents can confidently support their child to develop understanding and new skills. Our resources and plans are personalised, individually developed to meet each child’s specific needs and experiences.