Anxiety in Teens with Autism

    Recognizing Anxiety in Teens with Autism

    Recognizing anxiety in teens with autism is important in getting them the help they need. First, you should educate yourself on the information research has found on the link between anxiety and autism. Here are some ways in which anxiety arises in teens with autism:

    • Specific phobia: a specific phobia, namely an intense, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger, may occur early in the course of ASD because of over responsiveness to sensory stimulation. Examples include: loud environment; specific phobias in these patients usually involve highly unusual stimuli (eg advertisement jingles, balloons popping, vacuum cleaners, toilet flushing, alarms at school..), but may also present fears (eg of the dark, insects, needles) that are typical of developing youth.
    • Obsessive compulsive disorder:  characterized by unwanted and intrusive thoughts and consequent compulsive behaviors. OCD is often comorbid with ASD.
    • Social anxiety: as the patient ages and the environment becomes more demanding, social communication impairment may underline the development of social anxiety. If the patient is high functioning and aware of his/her social incompetence, social anxiety can be worse. Social anxiety, defined as intense anxiety or fear of being negatively evaluated in a social or performance situation, in turn leads to avoidance of social situations. This can limit the patient’s opportunities to practice social skills and may predispose the individual to negative reactions from peers and even bullying.
    • Separation anxiety: social impairment may evoke overprotective reactions from parents that in turn may strengthen avoidance behavior in the child. Separation anxiety may then arise when the patient has to separate from attachment figures. 

    *Other atypical symptoms of anxiety: Teens with anxiety often experience symptoms of anxiety that not necessarily fit within a diagnosis, for example intense levels of distress related to changes in their routine or environment.

    Care Options for Anxiety in Teens With Autism

    There are many options for your teen struggling with anxiety. You should not hesitate to seek professional care. Your teen’s health care professional may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy which is a type of therapy that is tailored to address your teen’s behavioral and emotional needs. A therapist will help them identify their triggers and teach them effective ways to cope with symptoms. Another recommended type of therapy is wilderness therapy this type of therapy places individuals in a serene environment away from the chaos of their everyday life which is conducive to healing. You should research resources in your area that may be able to help your teen today.

    Trails Carolina can help

    Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program that helps teens ages 10-17 who are struggling with behavioral and emotional issues. This program uses adventure-based therapy to help students gain a new sense of self-awareness, confidence, and independence. The skills they learn throughout the wilderness program offer long-term benefits towards their ability to successfully self-navigate in the real world. By removing teens from their fast-paced environment into a safe, nurturing, and peaceful environment, they are able to focus on improving and reflecting upon their behavior. Trails Carolina gives students the tools they need to lead happy and healthy lives. We can help your family today!

    Contact us at 800-975-7303

     

    AUTHOR

    Graham Shannonhouse

    A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Graham Shannonhouse has been actively involved in the wilderness therapy field for nearly three decades. After receiving her degree in 1991, Shannonhouse spent 10 years working with a premiere wilderness-based therapeutic program in south-central Idaho. During her tenure, she served three years as a hands-on Field Instructor, three years as Field Supervisor, and the remaining time as Wilderness Program Director. During this period she developed, managed, and served as counselor for the country’s first wilderness program specifically focused on pre- teens ages 10 to 13 Graham returned to the east in 2002 to serve as Executive Director for a therapeutic wilderness program based in North Carolina, successfully growing it to one of the most respected companies in the industry. In 2008, she resigned her position to open Trails Carolina. Having an intimate working knowledge of the roots of wilderness therapy, Graham has brought her experience and wisdom to her position as Partner and Executive Director with the goal of integrating the true family work that must be done to insure lasting success.

    All stories by: Graham Shannonhouse