|Forum Home > General Discussion > Coping with Anxiety in Autism.|
Imagine you have a job interview and you’re nervous about it. On the way you get stuck in traffic and you might be late. You need to use the toilet before you go in, but you won't have time. You'll just have to wait.
This is the sort of cumulative effect that can happen to children and young people on the autism spectrum. From the outside it can seem like they have been upset by something simple, but anxiety may have been building for some time.
There are some common themes when talking about the causes of anxiety. However, everyone is different and the best thing is to get to know the child or young person you are working with.
Here are some possible reasons why a pupil might be anxious.
This can be something big such as starting or changing school or a small change like having to sit in a different seat in the classroom or a change in teacher.
Autistic children and young people need routine as it gives them the structure and predictability that helps them to make sense of the world around them.
Autistic pupils may have a range of sensory needs. They might experience sensory input in one or more of the seven senses differently.
Think about situations in school where there is a lot of sensory information. Consider the dining hall, where there are:
• crowds of people
• different food smells
• lots of noise such as chatting, laughing, chairs scraping and cutlery clanging
• foods with different tastes and textures
• tables, chairs and groups of pupils that make it difficult for you to move through the hall.
This can be an overwhelming place for a child or young person on the autism.
Autistic pupils can have difficulty with social interaction and communication, making the school environment stressful, particularly at unstructured times such as break and lunch times. Just because a child or young person is autistic, it doesn't mean they are not self-aware and won’t worry about getting social situations wrong. They may have had their confidence knocked many times, making them more anxious.
Read more about social skills in young children and adolescents.
Autistic pupils can find understanding their own emotions difficult, and may experience them differently to you.
Sometimes feelings and emotions can manifest in a way that is not what you expect. For example, someone could appear happy and excited about an up-coming event, and this may might merge into anxiety, leading to unexpected challenging behaviour.