Mental Health & Autism Children
Autism is not a mental health problem, but autistic children can have good and bad mental health like anyone else. It’s a developmental condition that affects how they see the world and how they interact with other people. Children with autism do often experience mental health problems. seven out of ten autistic people have a mental health condition such as anxiety, depression or OCD. It can be challenging to untangle autism and co-occurring mental health conditions.
The co-occurrence of mental health disorders among autistic children can complicate how clinicians understand the child’s behaviour, evaluate interventions they are participating in, and provide strategies for supporting them. When an child is showing signs of distress, knowing the cause of the symptoms can be rather challenging. For example, an autistic child in the classroom may begin to engage in disruptive behaviour, such as ripping up their paper. The teacher or other support staff may assume this behaviour is a result of autism; however, the child may be displaying an anxious behaviour because they do not understand the task at hand. There is little research into why this is, but it may be because autistic people:
- Can struggle to try to fit into or make sense of the world, which can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety
- May face delays in getting their mental health problems diagnosed
- Children are more likely to face stigma and discrimination
- Children are less likely to have appropriate support available. For example, group therapy might not be suitable for some autistic people, or therapists might not know how to adapt their approach to helping an autistic person
Research has shown that autistic youth with co-occurring anxiety, depression, OCD, and/or eating disorders often have difficulties in regulating emotions. Emotional dysregulation is the inability to adjust or control one’s emotions, making calming down and/or identifying one’s feelings much harder. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown positive results for assisting autistics to understand their emotions and develop the skills to manage their emotions. It is important for parents to have a positive and open communicative.
At Jeevaniyam, we support autistic children with co-occurring mental health conditions by understanding the triggers instead of making vague assumptions with the help of our doctors and supporting staff and digging into the root cause of the problems. Because of emotional dysregulation, autistic individuals are more likely to use maladaptive and involuntary emotional regulation methods, if an individual’s triggers have been addressed and supported yet the individual still demonstrates symptoms of anxiety, professionals should consider evidence-based treatments to provide the individual with healthier regulation methods. Getting an autism diagnosis with our team and developing a better understanding of themselves has helped many autistic individuals with depression to improve the overall mental health.