The previous two articles in this series looked at anxiety in people with autism, and how it can affect them. This article will try and look at some of the things that can be done to either stop anxiety, or lessen its impact. The tips might not work for everyone, and each individual will have to find their own way of dealing with these issues, but hopefully they will be of help to some readers.
Try and talk to someone about it: This might be easier said than done if someone has autism, and finds it hard to know what they are feeling let alone tell someone else about it. But if it can be done then it can be a huge help. Sometimes just talking about something makes it easer to deal with as people tend to view things differently, and therefore getting someone else`s advice, and view on things can change the way we see them. Not everyone finds it easy talk outloud, and for them talking to someone might mean writing something down, or typing how they feel for someone else to read. That’s fine, talking to someone just means sharing how they feel, it does not have to involve actual talking.*
Do a chart/diary: Trying to keep a chart of anxiety levels each day, and what happened on those days can help. People forget things, but if it`s all written down it`s easer to look back over it, and pick out the days when the anxiety was worse, and see what was going on on those days, or the days leading up to them that may have led to the increase in anxiety
Have a firm plan: This can be for the day, week, month or even year! Having a plan can help people with autism as it lets them know what is going to happen, and when. With autism a lot of the anxiety comes from not knowing what is happening, or at what time. Now this will not solve the whole issue as there is still the issue of the anxiety if the plan has to be changed, but if done hand-in-hand with some of the other tips it could help.
Try and have ways to reduce it: if the anxiety can’t be stopped then the autistic person might try and have something they can do to lessen it, such as having a stress ball or taking deep breaths. They might start to sing their favoite song in their head, or try and think of a vivid happy memory to take their mind of what is going on. This might not totally take the anxiety away, but it might lessen it, and make them more able to cope.
There is no one easy way to cure anxiety, but the tips listed here can be helpful. When anxiety is so bad it impatcs on people`s daily lives then anything that can lessen it will do some good. Sadly anxiety is something that will impact on a lot of autistic people, but if they have some knowledge of how to handle it then with any lucky the impact will not be as severe as it might otherwise be.
*Scripts, Signs and Sketches can really help autistic people deal with anxiety. For details see my books: http://www.jkp.com/uk/create-a-reward-plan-for-your-child-with-asperger-syndrome-32229.html