Most of the interventions designed to help people on the autism spectrum deal with anxiety are the same as those designed to help anyone deal with anxiety.
For example, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that anyone treating a specific type of anxiety in people on the autism spectrum (such as generalised anxiety disorder) should follow existing advice for treating that type of anxiety in other people.
We believe that if you can identify the causes of someone’ s anxiety, including any situations that are likely to make them anxious, you are more likely to be able to help them deal with that anxiety. We also believe that, whatever you do to reduce anxiety in an individual, you should do so in a safe, consistent and predictable environment.
If the anxiety appears to be directly related to specific situations, then you may be able to change the situation in which the anxiety occurs. Sometimes, relatively simple changes can have a significant impact (for example removing noise or clutter in the room or allowing a child to stay in the school library during play times if he or she finds play times stressful).
There are a number of psychological approaches sometimes used to help people on the autism spectrum with anxiety. These approaches include
There are a number of medications sometimes used to help people on the autism spectrum deal with anxiety including
Please note: medications should only be used under the direction of a suitably qualified practitioner, such as a paediatrician or psychiatrist, and only after there has been no or limited response to other interventions. The effects should be carefully monitored and reviewed on a regular basis and the medication withdrawn if no significant benefits are seen. Some medications have significant side effects or interactions with other substances. Some medications can actually make anxiety worse.
There are numerous other interventions sometimes used to help people on the autism spectrum deal with anxiety. These include acupuncture, assistance dogs, dietary supplements, hypnosis, low arousal techniques, massage, meditation, music therapy, neurofeedback training, physical exercise, relaxation techniques, sensory integrative training, transcranial magnetic stimulation, weighted vests, and yoga.
Some alternative treatments should only be used for a limited period and under the direction of a suitably qualified practitioner, such as a GP or a dietician. Some alternative treatments may have significant side effects or interactions with other substances. Some alternative treatments can actually make anxiety worse.