Anxiety and Autism

There is no getting away from the fact that as a child and through my school years, I lived with anxiety. As an adult I still continue to live with anxiety. I also know that my anxiety is linked to Autism Spectrum Disorder.

There are many common behaviours seen in those with autism that overlap with symptoms in other anxiety disorders, therefore familiarity and understanding for someone with autism is very important.

Where autism creates fear, panic and anxiety, with the help of a CBT counsellor, it has become easier for me to talk about the issues that cause me anxiety.

Anxiety disorders affect 42 per cent of autistic children compared with just 3 per cent of children without autism. Mental-health issues affect 79 per cent of autistic adults, but many of those adults won’t get the help and support they need. Two in five autistic people are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, but many more will go on to experience symptoms of anxiety that affect how they live their lives. (Source: https//

With autism, we may struggle to work through situations, not because we don’t want to, or because we don’t trust other people’s judgment, but because autism makes it difficult for us to understand conversations and the meanings of those conversations. For us to be comfortable with our choices and for us to feel settled, we must have understanding.

Not having the first will cause a ripple effect on the second. New circumstances, any changes to our routine, and new environments will cause us to be and feel anxious.

22 Feb, 2019

6 thoughts on “Anxiety and Autism

  1. Knowing is half the battle with so many of these issues. It helps when you know you have Autism or in my case ADHD which explains a lot.

    I also have to deal with generalised Anxiety Disorder which explains why I have such trouble doing things, like making simple decisions.

    It’s beyond frustrating when I have such a hard time doing things like picking out new windshield wipers because I just can’t seem to decide which ones to get.

    I’m sure it has a lot to do with the fact that I wasn’t allowed to make my own choices as a kid. My parents made me feel guilty most of the time for trying, which has led to a lifetime of bad choices.

    It sounds like your parents didn’t help you in that area either, by not acknowledging that your anxiety was a real issue for you.

    I have such a hard time understanding why it is that parents would do that to their own children, just to make it easier on themselves.

    This is why I feel so trapped in my current situation, since my girlfriend treats me the same way my parents did. When you live with it for so long, you don’t know anything different.

    Part of me wants to stay and continue fighting for what I consider to be mine, but the reality is that I need to get away from her as soon as possible.

    People are always saying things like ‘just leave’ but they don’t have any idea of what it’s like when you have been brainwashed into believing that living your own life, is like one of the seven deadly sins.

    I’m sure that it would be hell for a while, but in the end I know it would be for the best, so I can live my own life and be comfortable in my own skin.

    1. Thanks Randy. Yes, anxiety isn’t easy but it can be managed. It would help all of us more if we were doing what makes us happy, rather than what’s expected.

      The more we struggle in our lives, the more anxiety we will have to deal with. Of course, living with a condition will always make our anxiety worse, so it’s even more important our environment is completely stress-free.

      It stands to reason, for me too that the more we sort our stress out, the easier our anxiety becomes.

  2. It is a relief, reading your blogs. I would say blessed are those who can express what they feel and think, rather than keeping their emotions to themselves. Also blessed are those who have someone to understand, stand by and to speak for those who can’t.

    Anxiety can be a killer sometimes, it can make people feel like giving up. I have experiences in my own life and have seen many people suffering with mild to severe anxiety disorders. Those who can vent their feelings with someone, can overcome their frustrations often.

    But those who have problems communicating or people who are non-verbal face more difficulties, especially when their needs are unmet, their choices are ignored or underestimated. When people do not meet their expectations, they are frustrated.

    Anxiety can cause physical symptoms, like increasing heart rate, palpitations, chest discomfort, increased blood pressure, headaches. People face difficulties in carrying out daily activities or may project in their behaviour too as aggression.

    People also worry that their words or deeds may embarrass themselves around others and so they suppress their fear, which ends up in severe forms of anxiety or depression.

    I feel what is more important, is to think always positively, adjust to transitions and help people in adapting to changes, trying to reduce anxiety inducing triggers, thus creating a stress-free environment. Anxiety is something that we can manage or treat.

    As a parent or a caretaker, we should never make our kids or partners, or our clients feel guilty about their trials or failures, rather we can encourage them, give them choices and recognition.

    We should never make others frustrated while trying to channel our own anxiety. All people should be given freedom to live their own life as unique individuals, as no one is superior or inferior. We must fight the battle together.

    Whatever limitations or disabilities we have accept them, accept each other and live happily.

    1. Hi Roshini and welcome to the site. Thank you, that’s kind. Yes, your response points out how others must behave and you’re right.

      Anxiety is hard enough on its own, but when it is coupled with Autism, it’s easy to understand why people with Autism present a certain way. For me, doubly hard because I didn’t know I had it.

      I think it’s important to treat people with or without disabilities in the right way. It’s not so much whether someone has a disability, but how we as individuals can serve to make other people’s lives better.

      We must always take into consideration a person’s disability needs.

  3. It is a truth and a fact that mostly every one with ASD face anxiety. I do believe that it can be different in people according to the situations they belong to. That can be any situation that happens in his or her life.

    For instance, a child with ASD who shows anxiety, is different in a person who is elderly. From my experience I would say that the anxiety associated with a child with ASD can be clearly seen because they are more expressive than elder people. So, continued effort is needed in this situation.

    These are actually some thoughts that I got from reading your blog and the few examples. Reading this helps me think about it more.

    1. Hi Allen and welcome to the site. Thanks. Yes, I agree. What you describe is what happens in society around the elderly. The elderly tend to get overlooked and that’s something that needs to continue to be addressed.

      When it comes to children, who have anxiety and ASD, sadly not all children will be able to express how they feel, but they will have more opportunities to have their anxiety and ASD addressed.

      It’s important and up to parents to make sure that each of their children get the emotional and physical support they need. I wasn’t so lucky.

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