A sensory diet involves providing the type of activities that meet a person's sensory needs throughout their day. Children with autism many times crave fast movement experiences such as swinging or deep pressure activities like wrestling or crashing into piles of pillows. Incorporating these types of sensory activities into their day helps to decrease levels of anxiety in children with autism.
In addition, types of aerobic exercise such as jumping jacks or jogging release chemicals called, 'endorphins,' that decrease the levels of anxiety children with autism experience. Adults with autism can create their own sensory diets with their favorite aerobic sports, weight lifting, or heavy muscle tasks such as stacking wood, shoveling snow, or hoeing a garden.
People with autism face numerous challenges. The challenges they face include ones related to:
People with autism might develop depression, or an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as generalized anxiety. Antidepressant medications may be helpful to treat depression, which in turn helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Anti-anxiety medications prescribed by a doctor may help to reduce symptoms of OCD and improve the person's mood. A number of people with autism also find that Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) medications can help to reduce anxiety they experience.
People with Autism and Modification of Work Expectations
People with autism often times excel in areas where they can maintain incredible focus. On the other hand, a number of people with autism struggle when it becomes necessary to multi-task. Sadly, the middle school years are often the most stressful ones for children who struggle with transitions between several class topics that require high degrees of organization and planning. Special education plans might need to reduce anxiety levels with organization assistance, reducing workloads, extending deadlines and other types of modifications.
Adults with autism might decrease the anxiety they experience by seeking out work situations that enable them to excel in their particular area of expertise and by avoiding jobs that demand multi-tasking. Professional life coaches or therapists may also help adults with autism to decrease the anxiety they experience by role playing situations where the person needs to self-advocate.
Behavioral Therapies and People with Autism
A number of behavioral therapies are available to assist people with autism to overcome anxiety and accompanying conditions such as alcoholism, eating disorders, or depression. Children with autism who have severe cognitive and language delays many times receive what is called, 'Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA),' where they are rewarded for positive behaviors such as following directions or answering questions correctly. Inability to communicate when a person feels pain or is hungry is highly stressful and therapies that promote communication help to decrease the anxiety they feel. High functioning adolescents and adults might also benefit from behavioral therapies that help them to be more assertive, to relax, and to feel more positive about themselves. Techniques commonly include role modeling and positive reinforcement.
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