A neurodevelopmental disease known as autism is marked by difficulties with sociability and communication as well as repetitive and ritualistic behaviours. The fight, flight, or response is triggered by anxiety, which is the body’s stress response. Autism and anxiety are frequently linked, and this association may be explained by a neurological reaction. Both the symptoms of anxiety and autism are likely caused by particular brain regions that share similarities.

Autism sufferers’ behavioural issues can worsen when they are anxious. Increased health problems and possible safety risks can result from it.

Many children with autism have significant levels of anxiety despite the fact that it is not one of the autism diagnostic criteria. Researchers found that at least one comorbid diagnosed anxiety condition was present in around 40% of children with autism. Anxiety is the most prevalent comorbid diagnoses in these people, despite the fact that anxiety is not thought of as an essential component of autism. Since anxiety is frequently disregarded in people with autism, it is challenging to estimate the actual prevalence of anxiety in this population. However, more recent research are demonstrating the overlap.

Children with autism frequently exhibit behaviours that are similar to signs of many different anxiety disorders. For instance, repetitive and stereotyped behaviours in children with autism may resemble the obsessions and compulsions of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Because of this, there is debate about what symptoms psychologists should consider symptom overlap and what constitutes a clearly unique disease.

Similar brain areas are involved in both autism and anxiety. Although there are genetic and environmental risk factors for both illnesses, it is unlikely that they co-occur by accident. Anxiety is more likely to be a problem for someone with autism than for someone without autism.

Anxiety can result from autism symptoms that make stress levels worse. As a result, this population may experience higher levels of anxiety than the overall populace.The following anxiety conditions affect people with autism most frequently:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorderย 
  • Particular Phobia
  • Disorder of Compulsive Behaviour (OCD).
  • Disordered Social Anxiety.
  • Separation Phobia.

Children with autism have many of the same anxieties and fears as regular kids. However, children with autism may worry or experience tension over issues that are less concerning for kids with regular development. These include items such as small changes to their routines or strange or unpredictable social situations, situations where it’s difficult to know what other people are thinking or feeling, or their own thoughts and feelings, particularly strange or unpleasant physical symptoms that are connected to anxious thoughts and feelings are to be avoided. The perception of being misunderstood and/or rejected by non-autistic persons is a significant contributor to anxiety. Children with autism may disguise or camouflage in order to “blend in” and not be perceived as being different. This may worsen anxiety and harm the mental health of the children.

Rigidity might include ritualistic behaviours (such as eating the same thing every day) and constricting interests, which are characterised as abnormally strong passions for something or someone that frequently result in futile pursuits ( because of a preoccupation with cars, memorising all makes and models). Any deviation from the norm typically results in resistance to change (for example, during travel routes, if a detour is taken, children can act out with tantrum and self-injury).

Many of the ways that children with autism communicate fear or anxiousness are also used by children who are typically developing. For instance, when kids have to say goodbye to dependable parents or other caregivers to leave for school or camp, separation anxiety is a common occurrence. Many kids fret and are distracted by problems like homework, friends, or health issues. These problems frequently affect both autistic and typically developing children. But youngsters with autism are particularly prone to social anxiety, or a fear of unfamiliar people and social circumstances.

It’s possible for your child to feel intense internal tension if he has anxiety. This may involve a racing heart, tense muscles and stomach pain. When anxiety is severe, they may engage in repetitive, seemingly pointless actions like shredding paper or clothing.

Of course, verbal communication is a challenge for children with autism frequently. As a result, the sole indication that something is hurting them may be the external signs of anxiousness. Researchers have also speculated that individuals with autism may have an increased prevalence of visible, physical signs of anxiousness.

Managing Anxiety in children with autism

Children with autism may struggle to interact with others and communicate effectively. As a result, the risk of anxiety may rise and stress levels may rise as well. To reduce the likelihood of anxiety in children with autism, parents and other caregivers can take a number of beneficial measures.

It’s critical to understand your child’s triggers and what you can do to reduce stress in their life. Keeping the lights dim can be beneficial if your child is hypersensitive to bright lights, for instance. Similarly, purchasing noise-cancelling headphones helps reduce sensory overload and exposure to loud noises while on excursions. Both of these techniques can aid in reducing stress and anxiety that is associated to it.

When it’s possible, alter the surroundings to create a serene and effective environment.

Make a calendar with a detailed schedule so your youngster will know what to expect. They may be able to move between activities more easily as a result.

To resolve problems, follow a step-by-step procedure and problem-solving approaches. This can assist kids with rigid thought patterns in developing fresh perspectives and finding novel approaches to problems.

Warning signs of autism

Learning the early indications of autism and becoming familiar with the regular developmental milestones that your kid should be hitting are two of the most crucial things you can do as a parent or caregiver. The age at which autism is diagnosed and the severity of its early symptoms vary greatly. In their first several months, some new born display signs. Some people don’t show their actions until they are 2 or 3.

  • loss of previously learned social, babbling, or speaking abilities
  • staying away from eye contact
  • consistently preferring isolation
  • inability to comprehend the emotions of others
  • delayed language acquisition
  • repetition of words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • resistance to small alterations in routine or environment
  • Specific interests
  • Recurring actions (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)
  • unusual and ferocious responses to tastes, textures, sounds, lights, and/or colours

You can use the M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in ToddlersTM) to decide whether your kid needs to be evaluated by a specialist. It is an easy autism screening that just takes a few minutes. Please speak with your kid’s doctor if the results indicate that there is a strong likelihood that your child has autism. Likewise, don’t wait to address any other worries you may have regarding your child’s growth. Now is the time to discuss autism screening for your child with your doctor.

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