Home > Got Questions?, Science > What behavioral therapies can help someone with autism and severe anxiety?

What behavioral therapies can help someone with autism and severe anxiety?

Today’s “Got Questions?” answer comes from clinical psychologist Jeffrey Wood, Ph.D., of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment at the University of California, Los Angeles. The recipient of three Autism Speaks grants, Wood has extensively studied anxiety in elementary school and adolescent children with autism.

Anxiety is common among children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Research suggests that at least 30 percent of children withASDalso have an anxiety disorder such as social phobia, separation anxiety, excessive worry/rumination, obsessive compulsive disorder or a phobia such as extreme fear of spiders or loud noise. Indeed, many of the children involved in our ASD research suffer multiple anxiety disorders.

It’s important to remember that anxiety can range from fluctuating, mild and completely understandable to unremitting, severe and irrational. Most people experience some form of anxiety on a regular basis, and this generally involves some degree of physical discomfort as well as negative mood.

Moderate levels of anxiety can actually be a positive, motivating force to increase one’s level of effort and attention when working or socializing.  However, research on how children adapt to different settings (academic, athletic, social, etc.) suggests that high levels of anxiety can interfere with academic and social success.

Several types of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have been developed to address anxiety in children with ASD, with promising results from several clinical research centers. Techniques include challenging negative thoughts with logic, role-play and modeling courageous behavior, and hierarchical (step by step) exposure to feared situations.

We and others have developed programs using modified versions of CBT that was originally developed for typically developing youth. These directly address problematic levels of anxiety in children with ASD. Several of these programs incorporate “special interests” to motivate children to engage in treatment activities during weekly sessions. For example, the therapist may use favorite cartoon characters to model coping skills, or intersperse conversations about a child’s special interests throughout the treatment sessions to promote motivation and engagement.

Depending on the program, these treatment sessions usually last 60 to 90 minutes each and extend over a course of 6 to 16 weeks. Most treatment plans also require parent involvement and weekly homework assignments.

Results from our randomized clinical trial, case studies and related reports indicate that most children with ASD who complete such programs experience significant improvements in anxiety as well as some improvement in social communication skills and other daily living skills. 1-9

We and others continue to conduct research on these and related behavioral interventions for relieving anxiety. At present these intensive and scientifically studied treatment programs are available primarily at a small number of autism treatment centers. We hope that further research and dissemination efforts will make them become more accessible to families throughout North America and elsewhere.

1. Wood JJ, Gadow KD. Exploring the nature and function of anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders. Clinical Psychology: Research and Practice. (In press)
2. Wood JJ, Drahota A, Sze K, Har K, Chiu A, Langer DA. Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorders: a randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2009;50(3):224-34.
3. Sze KM, Wood JJ. Enhancing CBT for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders and concurrent anxiety: a case study. Behavioral and Cognitive Psychotherapy. 2008;36:403-9.
4. Chalfant AM, Rapee R, Carroll L. Treating anxiety disorders in children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders: a controlled trial. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2007;37(10):1842-57.
5. Lang R, Regester A, Lauderdale S, Ashbaugh K, Haring S. Treatment of anxiety in autism spectrum disorders using cognitive behaviour therapy: A systematic review. Developmental Neurorehabilitation. 2010;13(1):53-63.
6. Reaven JA, Hepburn SL, Ross RG. Use of the ADOS and ADI-R in children with psychosis: importance of clinical judgment. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2008;13(1):81-94.
7. Scarpa A, Reyes NM. Improving emotion regulation with CBT in young children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders: a pilot study. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy. 2011;39(4):495-500.
8. White SW, Albano AM, Johnson CR, et al. Development of a cognitive-behavioral intervention program to treat anxiety and social deficits in teens with high-functioning autism. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. 2010;13(1):77-90.
9. Sofronoff K, Attwood T, Hinton S. A randomized controlled trial of a CBT intervention for anxiety in children with Asperger syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatiry. 2005;46(11):1152-60.

Read more autism research news and perspective on the science page.

  1. Janice
    February 24, 2012 at 9:30 am

    “At present these intensive and scientifically studied treatment programs are available primarily at a small number of autism treatment centers”.

    Where specifically are these treatment centers to gain access?

    • Noreen Albright
      February 25, 2012 at 10:27 am

      I’m interested too! My son is 7 and needs this sort of training. Hopefully there are a few places here in NJ where the numbers are EXTREMELY high and where pharma likes to mandate.

  2. Caroline Haasl
    February 24, 2012 at 9:32 am

    we have a granddaughter that is pervasive development disabled and have started to use some technics to help us with her behaviour. the 5 point system with her elevated anger and have been trying to ignore her screaming and accusing of us of bossing her around. She has a problem with hygiene everyday. She has to wear a pull-up every night as she was not allowed to go to the bathroom when she needed when she was little and now does not get up in the middle of the night. She likes to try to put a wedge between my husband and I and has not succeeded. we are in the process of adopting her and am working with a service to aaccomplish that. We are also working with a program that is called the Yes program, that gives us the services to awork with her. She is involved with 2 mentors, a equestrian therapist , and 2 in home therapists. we can not use the word “therapist” around her they are just friends. Can you give us any advise as any other kind of therapies or technics to use with her?

    • Michelle
      March 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Please don’t take this the wrong way..
      One of the most important “therapies” my family got occurred when I began to learn more about “typical” ASD behavior.

      What I learned was that when we look at the behavior of our ASD children through our neuro-typical (NT) eyes, we often assign the label of “misbehavior” to what may in fact be, “distress”, “different” cognitive processing, inability to express distress appropriately, and social misunderstandings. Of course our kids misbehave too, but skills such as social interaction, hygiene, getting dressed, appropriate social behavior, etc are skills that we NTs learn naturally. Your ASD granddaughter needs to be explicitly taught these skills and then given the opportunity to practice them over and over and over. It doesn’t come naturally for them, but when they get it, it means so much more. When she is “misbehaving”, ask yourself, is this really misbehavior or just a “skill” she hasn’t mastered?

      In your case, I wouldn’t be so sure that she “trying to put a wedge” between you and your husband. That implies quite a bit more social savvy than many ASD kids have. While the effect may be the same, the intent and ability may NOT be there.
      As for night pull-ups, that’s not that uncommon with ASD kids, just keep working with her “friends” to master that skill.
      Hygiene issues are often rooted in Sensory difficulties. If you have not already had her evaluated for Sensory, please consider bringing her to an Occupational Therapist (OT) who specializes in sensory and autism – most people on the spectrum have a lot of difficulties with Sensory. Although it takes quite a bit of time and money, OT can work wonders for many kids – but make sure it is Sensory OT. Regular OT will do nothing for her sensory and autism issues.

      My daughter was eventually diagnosed at age 11 with PDD-NOS (after sensory integration disorder and ADHD – new diagnosis were added every three years). But, once I began to understand that she was “different”, I began to see that many of my daughter’s “behaviors” were not disobedient or willful, but instead that she was often expressing (albeit inappropriately) her distress about something (clothes, food, sound, etc). And, although initially skeptical that there could possibly be anything “wrong” with our daughter and sure that she was just being a brat, my husband did a complete turnaround when he saw the changes in her behavior, my behavior, and our much more positive relationship.
      Our biggest example was clothing. When she was in Pre-K and Kindergarten, every morning was a battle. She refused to get dressed, if I got clothes on her, she would take them back off. She was late for school, getting punished, and every morning was a nightmare. My aunt loaned me “The Out of Sync Child” and low and behold, I realized that she has tactile sensory issues. Her clothes HURT her skin. Once I understood WHY she was fighting me over getting dressed, our mornings improved. She wasn’t intentionally disobeying me, she was in distress. Once I understood that she needs my HELP, not my discipline, our interactions changed. We were able (eventually) to find some clothes that were less distressful. I took her to Occupational Therapy (OT) where they worked on many sensory issues including the tactile issues using the Wilbarger Brushing therapy (it doesn’t work for everyone, but for her it was a god-send).
      Shopping for new clothes is still extremely stressful but I have learned that when she starts to melt down, I need to step back and very calmly say “OK, I understand it isn’t comfortable, please tell me (with words and gestures) what is uncomfortable so we can find something better.” As a young teen, she still can’t wear jeans, but she will wear many other clothes that do allow her to fit in with her peers.
      And while I cannot claim to always work with her patiently, we have learned ways to work together much of the time. She has grown and changed, becoming more competent in many aspects of her life. Now, my biggest challenge is to step back and help her to learn that SHE must identify the problem, SHE must work to stay calm, and then SHE must initiate the correction, while still understanding that I am always there to help her if she gets stuck.

      Best wishes. It is a journey, sometimes it’s like climbing a mountain. The road may be really rocky, slippery, exhausting, and steep but then your granddaughter will do something that makes you really proud (even if it’s something terribly mundane to everyone else). It’s like you came around the bend, and there is the most beautiful vista you’ve ever seen. It will fill your heart like no accomplishment any of your NT kids ever did. Yes, there will always be mountains to climb. But there will always be amazing vistas and proud moments too.

  3. February 24, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Neurofeedback and Biofeedback are great therapies for kids with autism and requires the child to have a cognitive age of about 4 and they do not need to be verbal, just able to sit in a chair for 10 minutes. The techniques help teach “self regulation”: learning to understand how you are feeling and to learn to be able to regulate it YOURSELF.

  4. Stephenie Rodgers
    February 24, 2012 at 10:09 am

    I have a five year old son and no one can seem to tell me why he is constantly apologizing. You can say good morning Payton and he will look at me and say I’m sorry momma . Any guidance would be appriated

    • M. Lindblom
      February 24, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Our daughter did that. Our first step was to yell less – even just un-addressed yelling (“Darn it, I dropped the toast”) as versus (“Adia, you left your shoes in the hall!”) The second step was to use storybooks (library time) to quietly discuss expressions, things people say to one another (Todd Parr’s baby board books on moods were useful). We practiced making funny faces in a mirror. Then, we moved on to pausing children’s movies at expressions and playing a game with the facial expression.

      The trouble with Adia was not that she was sorry, of course, but that she had become so lost in reading faces and body language that for her, the safest course of action was to apologize. Even now (she is 8 now) we must put our finger to our lips when she makes the occasional apology and tell her, “I am not angry. Do I look angry? Maybe I should be saying I am sorry, because I am not angry.”

  5. February 24, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Great article. There needs to be more written about autism and anxiety. Anxiety (internal distress) is one of the causes of problem behavior. Before looking at avast array of treatment options, one should first define how anxiety is manifested (i.e., what does it look like?). Then, one should conduct an antecedent analysis as part of a functional behavioral assessment. This helps to answer critical questions as to ‘what’ makes the child anxious, ‘where’ is the child anxious, ‘when’ is the child anxious, and ‘with whom’ is the child anxious? Once the answers to these questions become clearer, an individualized treatment plan can be developed.

  6. Karolina Block
    February 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I am also interested in learning where these centers are. My daughter deals with a lot of anxiety (currently addressed with medication). The medication has very little impact on her anxiety. I would love to know where can I turn for help.

  7. Melanie
    February 24, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    My son is 12 and has Asperger’s and severe OCD to the point it is disabiling. Is this kind of therapy available in the Cleveland area? Thanks,

  8. hunter
    February 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I have a 12 year old son,with Aspergers.He is very articulate and intelligent.He struggles alot with organization of(school-homework),his thoughts and everyday life.I just went to his school conference.Teacher just said he know what he is doing(test scores) prove it.His grades say the total opposite.If he doesn’t get one on one attention from teachers he is lost..He has an IEP,it seems really week to me.Last IEP meeting we had, his case manager said that he has done good on his goals,so they are thinking he doen’t need the special education help anymore.If i understand that right,that means his IEP would be taken away.The school told me he wasn’t given his IEP for his Aspergers,he is under ‘Other health impairments”.He is a tricky case,because he is very smart,articulate,and on alot of days he seems relatively normal.My question is…can the school take away his IEP even if his grades are so bad?He needs some help and I need help getting it for him.

    • Dawn
      February 25, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Try requesting a 504. It’s similar to IEP, but addresses the more complicated issues like anxiety, ADHD, severeity of diagnosis. You will need a doctor sign off on the form.

      • Michelle
        March 2, 2012 at 10:13 am

        Beware of 504s if you already have difficulties with you school complying with your son’s IEP. Schools are much more willing to give a 504 because there is absolutely no accountability to anyone if they don’t do what they promise. It is an UNFUNDED Federal mandate. While it is slightly better than nothing, your school district can promise the moon and then provide nothing with a 504. There isn’t a “Program Quality Assurance” department (PQA) for 504s. The school district will comply if they want to, or won’t if they don’t. You have very little recourse if they don’t. All states are required to meet the federal minimums in Special Ed, and IEPs have state oversight, including a procedure to file complaints if they do not comply with the IEP. Each state has a PQA department to arbitrate if you feel your school is not complying with the IEP.
        Also, IEPs can have disciplinary protections put into them. That does NOT mean your child can misbehave, but it does define just that HOW misbehavior is identified and handled. There are no disciplinary protections in a 504.
        For example:
        – A teacher cannot define “wiggling” as misbehavior if your child, due to his disability, is unable to sit still. The IEP would define how often or under which circumstances you son might need a “wiggle break” – which might be as simple as informing his teacher of the need – and he MUST be allowed to move, walk, or whatever is noted in the IEP.
        – If your child has sensory issues and ends up in an argument because he was jostled in line, they must figure out how to work with him so that he can be in line and not stressed or fighting (i.e. Occupational Therapy, placement in the beginning or end of the line, walking with the teacher, social stories and forecasting, etc),
        Mostly a 504 just includes accommodations but not services and protections. It costs the school less, and if they don’t comply with it, it costs nothing – it won’t even cost them legal services to defend it in court because there isn’t a federal department to pursue their non-compliance.

    • Michelle
      February 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      My daughter is diagnosed with PDD-NOS. She is very articulate, intelligent, socially shy and awkward, with NO executive function (planning & organizing). She has a hard-fought-for IEP. When I was growing up, we didn’t know anything about Autism. So, she would have been seen as a really bright, quiet, quirky child who failed because she didn’t “try” hard enough. It’s not that she isn’t trying. It’s that she is unable to plan or organize and she cannot work in a group without assistance. We still run into that “not trying” prejudice regularly.
      Here are the two things I usually say about her difficulties with Autism and then I will get to your IEP question:
      1) She’s a straight A student, except when she’s not. By that I mean, she has the potential to be a straight A student, and sometimes she is. But she cannot plan or organize, so her grades plummet with longer assignments, group assignments, and projects. You cannot imagine how many times I hear other “Aspie” parents say the same thing when I go to “Aspie” workshops. Apparently, this is a hallmark of “Aspie” kids.
      2) If Autism spectrum was a rainbow, I say she’s not Red, she’s more like Violet. In fact, usually she’s more like Ultra-Violet, you can’t see it, but it can still burn you. It sounds like your son may be “UV” too.

      On to your question about IEPs:
      Most “Aspies” are very articulate and intelligent, but they still need an IEP if they have any organizational (executive function), social, or emotional issues due to Autism. The school absolutely CANNOT close his IEP without your permission or without justification. You have the right to challenge any attempt to close his IEP and it must stay active until that challenge is settled. Do NOT let them remove services without your approval. They may lie and bully you, but you and your son have legal rights. They absolutely CANNOT use only his test grades to determine eligibility, especially if his class grades aren’t on par. They can’t even just use “grades”. If he is getting good grades, but isn’t able to interact with his peers or plan and organize his work, he may still be eligible for services. You may want to consider getting an education advocate familiar with the SPed laws of your state to help you through the process (some places offer free/reduced price if you qualify). Lawyer up if you really need to..
      NOTE: His test grades show his “potential”, his class grades show that some thing(s) in his environment is making it hard for him to learn. That is the point of SPed, to level the playing field and allow him to learn too. Unfortunately, “Aspies” often have issues with executive function, social interactions, noise and other sensory distractions, and / or emotional issues. ALL of these must be addressed, they cannot be ignored, and much as the school will say “it’s not my problem”, the law says differently – and they are most likely the reason your very intelligent son is having so much difficulty with class grades.
      FYI – The Federal law, IDEA, states that special education is to prepare students for “further education, employment, and independent living”. Test grades alone do not get you into college, get you a job, or help you interact with the world; they cannot be used as the sole factor in determining his IEP eligibility.
      Not sure where you are, but in Mass, we have Federation for Children with Special Needs (fcsn.org) and Aspergers Association of New England (aane.org). Both are excellent resources for questions. They are familiar with Federal laws too. Your state must meet the minimum federal laws, so they may be able to help even if you are not in Mass or New England. AANE offers workshops on IEPs regularly. There may be similar organizations in your state too.
      This site, Autism Speaks, is nationwide, so they may be able to refer you to someone in your area to help you – including an advocate. But remember, YOU are your son’s best advocate because you have his best interests at heart. Never back down, there’s too much at stake.
      Best of luck!

  9. Marta
    February 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    How can anxiety be treated in non -verbal children?

    • February 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      It’s really important to find a list of things that soothe your child and figure out which of those things can be used in different settings. For example for a child who finds certain music very soothing, you could take an MP3 to situations when there may be a source of stress. Understanding their sources of anxiety is very important. I have a series of youtube videos, which explain stress and how to help manage it http://www.stressbootcamp.com/4freevideosspecialfamily/. If parents can understand stress better, they can help their child better.

  10. mayra salazar
    February 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    My son used to go to the bathroom in public places and now he refuses it is a bloody murder if we even try… he would rather pee outside in a tree before he goes into the bathroom at any public place! Any ideas? we already do ABA and this point I would like for him to use the bathroom when we are out and about.

    • Beverly
      February 24, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Is the issue the noise in the public bathroom? the echo of toilets flushing, the sound of the hand dryers, all these items could trigger a sensory overload. also the unpredictable nature of the public bathroom, at home he could prepare himself for the noise. Social stories about the noise, developing strategies to deal with the noise,etc.

      • Bianca Sames
        February 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm

        On eBay they sell wee targets for the toilet for boys with pictures that only show up when the wee hits them it’s like a game for them it makes learning toileting fun have a look less than $10 each well worth it he can choose the picture!!!

    • Michelle
      February 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      My daughter was terrified of the automatic-flushers, they always seemed to go off when she was still on the toilet. I found that going into the stall with her and holding toilet paper over the automatic eye to prevent flushing helped. It prevented the “flush” and I was there, so she wasn’t so anxious. She finally outgrew her fear around the age of 8 or 9.
      Hope that helps!

  11. February 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Am a 65 yr. old autistic woman and formerly had severe anxiety because of sensory problems. Now, for example, when in a supermarket, I listen to opera on an MP3 player with headphones. That is ideal for me. If the player cannot be used, then I use etymotic earplugs, (ordered reasonably through Amazon.com), and with both I wear clip-on sunglasses. Took me lots of years to even figure out that the problem was anxiety, then years more to find something to do about it. I’m good to go now and lovin’ life !!

  12. Anne Capaldi
    February 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    My daughter is 7 and has PDD-NOS. She is extremely smart . She does have a negative attitude when she thinks she can not do something. She will make up her mind that she can’t do it before she even tries. It is very frustrating and I feel she needs this type of therapy to help her change the way she thinks. we are very positive with her but doesn’t seem to help. I am hoping this type of therapy will be available to us soon. Thanks for making us aware.

    • February 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      I’d recommend a social story explaining that it’s better to try something and that’s it’s okay not to be successful all the time, and that most learning is done by learning from your mistakes. Carol Gray has written several books on social stories but many parents get good at writing them themselves I could send you some examples of ones I have writen. They are a powerful way to explain a complex concept and one that can be repeated often, so that it will eventually sink in, our kids take much longer to learn and generalize! Good luck!

  13. Evonne
    February 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    hello I have a daughter that is 19 years old with Autism with anxiety but three years ago my beautiful daughter was a victim to 4 that boys molested her plus she was sexually assaulted by one of them.ever since this has happen she now has Severe anxiety PSTD plus she now hear voice and see things. If we leave her alone even 5 minutes she believes some one going to hurt her again. My daughter was place in a treatment to try stabilize her. She is on medication but we still have issues. Have you ever work with any child or adults that was a victim of sexual assaulted if so where can i get some information on this.

    • Bianca Sames
      February 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      Hi I’m so sorry for what happened to your daughter firstly, I have two daughters with Autism and this is my greatest fear for them as I was molested by my step father as a young child and raped as a teen by a family friend, I am a trained counselor and am happy for you to get into contact with me but there are wonder counselors out there I have had counseling for my ordeals and even with special needs individuals you can get help for her. She may never get over it, she may always have some level of anxiety and that is common but with the right person working with her she may over time be able to become less dependant and have a little less anxiety. Please feel free to email me bubyblue1980@yahoo.com.au but I’m sure it’s just investigating the best counselors in your area Rosebank is the name of the service I used and they are beautiful and work with children and adults so give them a try. Once again nothing can take away her pain or yours but I hope you can help her find some peace again. Take care God Bless xx

      • March 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm

        For both of you, sexual assault is much more common among children with disabilities including ASD than generic children. Yet, such information is not made available to parents and family members. Actually there are now therapies that can release the pain of the trauma, including confusion, shame, anger, embarrasment, ongoing phobias among others. The best of these is called Thought Field Therapy and is based in a mix of psychology and energy meridian points used in Acupressure and Acupuncture. If you can find a TFT practitioner in your area, you will be amazed at how deeply the pain is released. It works great with non-verbal kids. Overall it is a fabulous treatment for anxiety including social anxiety, anxiety around specific items/persons/locations; phobias, general anxiety…basically any type of anxiety. I use it personally and use it with all my trauma patients whether or not they have a disability, but since my specialty area is individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, I felt inspired to share that with you. Feel free to send an email if you want more information. The best things about TFT: it works! it works fast! results are long term (first patient still phobia free after 38 years); nothing ingested, injected or inhaled; no side effects.

  14. February 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    My 17 yr old son David helps himself by listening to music. He also reads by himself in the comfort of his own room. When he wants to come out and stretch his legs and visit with us he does. He knows more than anyone what triggers his anxiety and does very well to combat the onset. I know his triggers as well, as does his older brother. We do our best to keep him out of the line of fire; so to speak. I also realize that sheltering him from life’s normal occurrences isn’t good as one day I will not be here to help and protect. When he comes out and starts to agonize over things I will not intervene anymore. What I do instead is watch and see how he reacts; as he must learn to help himself deal and adjust to his environment. He will be a grown man one day and this is important. I watch him and intervene when and only when I see fit. He has to figure things out on his own and with constant support from us he does quite well. This is a constant every single day event in our home, teaching Davey to think on his own is our focus. Lots of love and encouragement every single day.

  15. Lisa
    February 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    I will never understand why the schools will tell us that since our child’s test scores are high, then that means that they are doing well enough and don’t need the extra help that they, in fact, DO need. To me I have always read that as a cop-out on their part. Are they patting themselves on the back? Where does this come from! My son who is now 20, an Aspy (as he calls himself) and in college, is also a part of honor society. In high school he would test amazingly well, not only on district tests but also on regular unit tests. It was the day to day grind work, the tedious bits of labor that got to him. THAT is what he needed help with and what ended up netting him many D’s, some C’s and occasionally F’s. The “testing well” was a natural gift… had absolutely nothing to do with how well he was functioning in the classroom. Luckily, he had a team that recognized that, and he was allowed to take resource classes for the reduced work and class size because of his attention span and overload issues. What if he hadn’t have had that team? He would have been in the predicament where the team would claim that he didn’t need the IEP because he was testing fine. Ugh. Please, please, please… if your team says that your child doesn’t need that extra help, don’t listen, and don’t fall in line. I’m not sure if there is some unwritten code that many people follow that says “test scores don’t lie”, but scores only tell part of the story.

  16. Bianca Sames
    February 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    I have two daughters 7 and 8 both with varying levels of Autism and Dev Delay my 8 yr old scratches herself when stressed and my 7 yr old is over sensitive and can be a little too emotional and easily upset, can you help with either of these issues. I run a p&c for our special needs school and advocate for my children publicly through the paper as well please help we have tried many different techniques all our therapists are at a loss!

  17. Kathy Darrow
    February 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    This is an excellent topic. My own children had alot of anxiety that manifested itself in very controlling behaviors, inflexibility and a host of other issues that affected our entire family and our ability go out as a family ( I have 2 NT children and 2 Dx with Autism). What I found was as I was working on my childrens behaviors with ABA their behaviors actually got worst and more rigid. There was a recent study actually citing that anxiety was noted as an effect on behaviorism as an intervention. Through other events I ultimately switched both my children to RElationship Development Intervention ( RDI) which restored the guiding relationship between me and my children and then fosters and promotes Dynamic intelligence. Part of Dynamic intelligence is finding uncertainty and challenge, exciting and productive. Just like us…we find some challenge rewarding as long as it does not go above our threshold! Same iwth our kids with Autism…and RDI addresses ANxiety through building up a childs resilience to those little one step ahead(s) of what they can manage. This is done through parent training with assignments and student objectives ( I was thrilled to read in the article that parents are heavily involved in the process as Mr WOods writes). Mr Woods does not state what CBT is used even though the title suggests the plural use of therapies. For my kids, RDI was the complete package, working on their anxiety long term through resilience building, and filling in my two sons developmental gaps removing the obstacle of Autism for them! I now work as an RDI consultant, and my first order of business is addressing this resilience with my families. Many families I work with start off with their children having high anxiety and acting out because of it. I am always thrilled when research is being done on these specific topics! Just confirms to me the uniqueness of RDI in including resilience as a crucual child objective to address…and taking it to the next level with each milestone, just like a typical child builds up their resilience, once step at a time. I personally would think that 6-16 weeks is not long enough for lasting change as I have incorporated resilience training in every level of each step of development..as the child becomes more competent, the level rises for more challenging engagement! For my own children this process has left them anxiety free! If anyone is interested in learning more about resilience and RDI, please visit my blogs at http://www.whatisrdi.blogspot.com and autismremediationforourchildren.blogspot.com


  18. February 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Please parents, if at all possible try the etymotic earplugs. They do not muffle sound, they just turn down the volume. They were a godsend to me. You can find them on Amazon.com They are nothing like the sponge plugs. It’s not necessary to put them through the agony of sensory overload…..I know…I am autistic and have severe sensory problems. There are two different sizes. One for small ear canals, the other for regular. I wear the small because mine are very small. I’ve used mine for about 4 years now, same pair. They were $12 plus tax, and well worth every penny.

  19. Special Needs Network Inc.
    March 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Reblogged this on 1 in 91.

  20. March 2, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    In this string of wonderful suggestions and experiences I didn’t notice any movement interventions to address anxiety or similar labels. These states are indicative of a foundational underdevelopment in a person’s automatic/survival reflexes, making the natural ‘go with the flow’ of NT impossible. My experience with reflexes integration using Rhythmic Movement Training, Tellington TTouch techniques, Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflexes Integration Method, specialized kinesiology, and acupressure have supported clients to develop their foundational nervous systems making all other therapies, accommodative strategies and techniques work that much better. Many techniques are self-regulated and a ready resource for personal use.

  21. Betty
    March 3, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Someone mentioned clothing – or not wanting to wear clothes. For several years – ages 3-7 maybe – my granddaughter would grudgingly tolerate clothes so she could go to school – which she loved. But the minute she came home off would go the clothes & she would only wear her swimming suit & nothing else – no shoes or socks – summer or winter. Now that she’s older clothing is less of an issue.

  22. March 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    When my daughter is on the GAPS program she has no anxiety and much less behavioural and sensory issues. If she is exposed to gluten (in particular) she very quickly gets nightmares and phobias (spiders, monsters whatever the theme is at that time) for a few days. As an adult pre-sufferer of anxiety (not ASD) I am also greatly affected by gluten and dairy and since being on GAPS have now experienced life free of abnormal anxiety. We were on holidays recently with little control over our diet and we have both suffered but are now normalising and she is becoming more lucid again! I feel for anyone with anxiety and would encourage you to take a look at the Gut and Psychology Program along with any other supports you find help.

  1. February 24, 2012 at 10:45 am

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