Anxiety in Autism being different from NT anxiety (Damian?) | Ambitious about Autism
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Anxiety in Autism being different from NT anxiety (Damian?)

Whirling Mind's picture
Whirling Mind

Anxiety in Autism being different from NT anxiety (Damian?)

Fri 31 Jan 2014 2:18pm

Does anyone know of any research about how anxiety in autism differs from anxiety in NTs?

What I mean by that is that for at least some people with ASC, if you don't encounter adverse situations or environments, you are not anxious.  Anxiety is triggered by things like:

  • fear of going into social situations
  • having to deal with a problem you feel ill-equipped to deal with
  • sensory difficulties
  • lack of understanding from others
  • social pressures and associated confusion

Doctors are quick to say "you have anxiety, here are some pills".  If you take away the stressful situations, the anxiety is gone.  They treat us like NTs with anxiety and fail to understand how it is.  They assume that if we visit their office with signs of anxiety (much of which will be from just sitting there in that situation) that we are like that the whole time and this affects a variety of things in the individual's life.

I know you touched on causes for anxiety in ASC in one of your links in your reply on the thread "Society's Reaction to ASD" Damian).

IMV, although anxiety is inherently part of or co-morbid to the ASC in at least 70% of people with the condition, I do believe (well from personal experience anyway) that when stressors are removed, anxiety dissipates.  I therefore believe that pill popping doesn't resolve the issue and it's just not good for someone with ASC to stay medicated for their whole life.

I would like doctors and other professionals to understand the challenges people with autism face and what causes their anxiety.  It involves undoing all their current ways of thinking of anxiety and understanding autism.

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  • Whirling Mind's picture

    Sorry the title of the thread has a typo!  It's meant to say "NT anxiety"!

  • JosieB's picture

    Hi Whirling

    The difficulty for me with this whole scenario is that NTs dont really know what anxiety for someone on the spectrum is like but equally important is that the same applies vice versa.

    Any anxiety whether felt by someone on the spectrum or an NT can equally be addressed by looking at the causation.  While pills might help the symptoms they dont address the cause for either party. 

    I dont know of any research but it would be interesting to read it if anyone can track some down. 

    Josie - Community Champion
  • JosieB's picture


    PS .. I fixed your title for you.Smile

    Josie - Community Champion
  • Whirling Mind's picture

    Hello Josie,

    I think some people are genetically predisposed to anxiety, I have read stuff about that before but don't have access to where I read it right now.  Perhaps NTs who have such a genetic predisposition, for instance, suffer from chronic anxiety or have lower anxiety thresholds.

    Perhaps in autistics, anxiety may be easily triggered but most or all of those triggers are directly attributable to autistic causes.

    In those of us with hypersensitive systems, it may be that it takes less to trigger anxiety.

    When I had my qEEG, it transpires my brain is hyperaroused and I don't have enough of the relevant waves that would calm it down.  That might make me more easily anxious than others, but it might only come into play in the above listed scenarios.

    I do think this is an area that needs investigating more.  I also find it's very frustrating when assumptions are made by professionals that simply aren't true, because they are thinking in an NT mindset and what superficially may appear similar outcomes in an autistic person and an NT person might be for absolutely different reasons, cause different issues and need different solutions.

  • Whirling Mind's picture

    This is the 2nd of Damian's links with a pertinent quote:

    "They judge me on the bit they can see and what they are able to see sadly will itself be limited by their own conditioning..." (Lyte)

    Here is the quote I referred to above in Damian's link:

    "3.6 A case in point: mental well-being

    Much literature on autism would suggest that autistic people are in some way predisposed to difficulties in psychiatric ill-health, including anxiety, depression, and catatonia (NAS, 2012b).

    This view however is a ‘medical model’ view of mental well-being (see section 3.5) that does not account for the ‘problems of living’ people on the autism spectrum have in navigating a social world that was not designed for their needs (to apply a more social model to the situation). The lack of opportunities ‘autistic people’ have in society, coupled with the social stigma of being seen as having a pathologically deviant cognition, is added to further by the trauma of ‘passing as normal’ (Lawson, 2008)."

    and there is another relevant quote from the same link:

    “...right from the start, from the time someone came up with the word ‘autism’, the condition has been judged from the outside, by its appearances, and not from the inside according to how it is experienced.” (Williams, 1996: 14).

  • Whirling Mind's picture

    Lack of understanding of autism (not only accompanying anxiety) behaviours is something that needs addressing urgently.

  • michaelz's picture

    Clasado Biosciences’ second generation prebiotic Bimuno(R) (B-GOS), a unique trans-galactooligosaccharide, demonstrated the ability to reduce anxiety in healthy subjects. (Psychopharmacology. Dec 2014; Online.)

    Clasado Biosciences and the University of Oxford conducted the clinical trial that showed the consumption of B-GOS produced a decrease in both waking cortisol levels and attentional vigilance toward negative versus positive information. The trial compared B-GOS with fructooligosaccharide (FOS) and a placebo.

    The results of the study suggest that B-GOS may have an anxiolytic effect and reduce stress reactivity in healthy subjects. The study also demonstrates that manipulation of the gut microbiota with B-GOS may alter HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis reactivity and processing. The HPA axis is often dysregulated in individuals suffering from depression and anxiety, impacting affective and memory processing, as well as having strong directional links with the gut microbiome...

  • michaelz's picture

    new blue room treatment for anxiety.

    if adult, you may need to pretend to be a child in order to qualify.


    blue room helps kids with autism - don't know if adults are eligible.

    they're taking referrals.


    The Blue Room, a unique immersive virtual reality which helps children with autism overcome their fears and phobias is being offered on the NHS.



    Blue Room showing bus sceneTesting a bus scene in the Blue Room



    Information on the service and referral process

    Following research showing that the Blue Room can help, the first patients have been referred for treatment.

    In 2014, the Newcastle University team reported in PLOS ONE, how eight out of nine children treated in the Blue Room were able to tackle the situation they feared and some were found to have completely overcome their phobias, even a year later.

    Now the immersive reality treatment is available as a NHS service, where there is funding by the children’s Clinical Commissioning Group, and each child referred will receive four sessions at the facility in County Durham.

    Immersive technology as treatment

    The Newcastle University team work with company Third Eye Technologies in their unique immersive Blue Room to create personalised scenarios...



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