Healthy Living

Anxiety May Heighten Social Communication Challenges in Autism

Coping and preventing the escalation of anxiety symptoms

As anxiety becomes more prevalent among individuals with autism, it is becoming more and more necessary to have general knowledge about the condition, including what symptoms to be aware of and what may help when anxiety becomes overwhelming. A few approaches to providing support to children, adolescents, and adults with autism in an attempt to help reduce their anxiety include:

  • Pinpointing what is triggering the anxiety to help the individual cope with and possibly overcome their fears
  • Setting up a visual schedule to help the individual have a clear picture of the activity and a time that it will occur, thus easing transitions
  • Providing a safe space for the individual when they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed
  • Using relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, to help the individual reduce their anxiety level
  • Reading/telling social stories that represent a ‘model’ of events that will likely occur during a situation. Doing so may help the individual feel less anxious about what is going to happen and more likely to cope with it in a calm manner
  • Creating a portable sensory tool box to reduce sensory sensitivities and to improve the individual’s tolerance to stressful-like situations or circumstances
  • Consulting with a therapeutic team on techniques that may help to address the individual’s needs, wants, or emotions