Search This Site


Why Your Child on the Autism Spectrum Experiences a Significant Degree of Anxiety

“Why does it seem to be the case that many (if not most) children with ASD also suffer from a significant degree of anxiety?”

Kids with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) are indeed particularly vulnerable to anxiety. This vulnerability may be an intrinsic feature of the disorder through a breakdown in circuitry related to extinguishing fear responses, a secondary consequence of their inability to make social judgments throughout development, and specific neurotransmitter system defects.

Specific reasons for experiencing high degrees of anxiety include the following:

1. Limitations in generalizing from one situation to another contribute to repeating the same social errors.

2. Limitations in their ability to grasp social cues and their highly rigid style act in concert to create repeated social gaffs as well.

3. The lack of empathy severely limits skills for autonomous social-problem solving.

4. The social-skills deficits of HFA and AS make it difficult for kids with the disorder to develop coping strategies for soothing themselves and controlling difficult emotions.

5. There is the discomfort that comes from “somatic responses” (i.e., relating to the body, especially as distinct from the mind) that are disconnected from events and experience.

6. They are frequently victimized and teased by their peers and can’t mount effective socially adaptive responses.

7. With these “special needs” children, there is sufficient grasp of situations to recognize that others “get it” when they do not.

Several medications have been tried for treatment of anxiety in young people on the autism spectrum. There is no reason to suspect that kids with the disorder are less likely to respond to the medications used for anxiety in “typical” (i.e., non-autistic) children. 

Therefore, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), buspirone, and alpha-adrenergic agonist medications (e.g., clonidine or guanfacine) all have been tried. The best evidence to date supports use of SSRIs.

Note: Kids with HFA and AS may be more vulnerable to side effects of medications - and many exhibit unusual side effects. “Disinhibition” (i.e., a lack of restraint manifested in disregard for social conventions) is particularly prominent and can be seen with any of the SSRIs. 

Similarly, excessive doses may produce  “amotivational syndrome” (i.e., a lack of desire to complete tasks, a sense of apathy about the future, poor concentration, and decreased interest in social and other activities).

No comments:

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...