11 March 2021

Autism and Mental Health - Anxiety

 

Over the recent year, our awareness of the impact of mental health and wellbeing support has become more important than ever for all of our learners across school.  

 

Whilst mental health and well-being support is relevant to all, we acknowledge that a survey conducted by the National Autistic Society revealed that 9 out of 10 autistic people were worried about their mental health, and 85% had felt their anxiety levels become worse during the coronavirus lockdown (https://www.autism.org.uk/what-we-do/news/coronavirus-report). 

 

In many cases, the high level of uncertainty presented in the current climate has added to the level of distress and anxiety experienced by autistic people, with triggers often building up over time. 

 

 

What does anxiety look like? 

 

Anxiety can present in a number of ways, with each person’s experience being different.   

Some of the common factors experienced include: 

  • Sleep disruptions 
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Sweating 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Negative thoughts 
  • Behavioural changes 
  • Depression 
  • Periods of crisis 
  • Seeking control 
  • Eating disorders 

 

What support is in place in school to support the reduction of anxiety?


At Tor View, learners are supported according to their individual needs, with staff working closely with parents and carers to ensure that the appropriate provision is in place. 

Some examples of the strategies used across school to prevent and manage anxiety include: 

  • A focus on positive relationships and connections with staff and peers including regular opportunities to build confidence and self-worth 
  • A focus on mindfulness, understanding the impact that this can have on promoting wellbeing 
  • Access to a healthy school dinner and regular exercise 
  • Use of total communication environment, visual supports and timetables to ensure clear communication and reduce confusion 
  • Use of individualised supports such as personalised social stories and symbols to provide clarity and promote understanding 
  • Preparation in advance where a change is required to a student’s usual routine 
  • Proactive sensory input to promote a balanced state of regulation 
  • Environmental considerations to ensure sensory sensitivities are supported 
  • Opportunities to access ‘retreat’ time, with focussed intervention according to individual needs 
  • Emotional interventions to help learners recognise and identify what emotion they are experiencing along with the development of appropriate response strategies to manage this  
  • Social interventions to support the management of stressful situations 


    Where can I access support? 

    If you feel that your child would benefit from further focussed autism support, please speak with your child’s class teacher to discuss how we could help. 

    If you require further support relating to Autism and Mental Health - please see the following links: 
  • https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/mental-health/seeking-help  
  • https://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/our-policy-work/equality-and-human-rights/mental-health-of-people-with-autism/

 

Posted by Michael Naughton