Autism: Parents Need Help Managing Emotions, Too

Autism and anxiety

Autism and anxiety

Dr. Ann Ozsivadjian, a psychologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in the United Kingdom, said children with autism are more prone to anxiety because of how they tend to process other people’s emotions and events. Children with ASD have trouble regulating emotions, sensory sensitivity, and poor language skills, which may translate into difficulty recognizing early signs of anxiety, few coping strategies, and an inability to read other people’s emotions to understand how to react in a stressful situation.

Dr. Sarah Rogers, a psychologist who adapted CBT for autism patients in the United Kingdom, wrote in the BACP Children & Young People Journal about her success including parents in CBT therapy. She noted four benefits when including parents in the therapy:

  • Parents can better interpret what their children are saying or mean
  • Parents can help remember the learnings and remind children how to do the homework.
  • Parents continue the therapy at home. For example, parents can help to generalize skills so they can be adapted for unanticipated situations.
  • Parents may be unknowingly contributing to the negative thinking CBT seeks to eradicate; as Dr. Rogers wrote, “Psychoeducation for both children and parents in paramount, as change may need to come from the whole family system.”