Why Autism Causes Anxiety

Written By Autism Parents

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism

Why Autism Causes Anxiety

Sadly ASD can lead to struggles with mental health, so in this article we explain why autism causes anxiety.

Autism and Anxiety

Autism is a common disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide.

It is a complex condition which is often characterised by differences in communication, behaviour, and sensory processing.

While autism and anxiety are two distinct conditions, there is a profound and intricate relationship between the two.

Below we explore the common factors that contribute to anxiety in those with autism.

We look to shed light on the challenges they face through an empathetic lense.

It is always important to recognise early on in such articles that not all those with autism suffer with anxiety.

Autism is called a spectrum disorder for a reason, it is different for each individual.

But with that said there are certain common challenges which mean the dual appearance is common.

Why autism causes anxiety
We explain why autism causes anxiety

Understanding autism

If you or one of your family members have autism there is a good chance you’re well appraised on the condition.

With that said however there may be visitors to this page who are less educated on the condition.

Put simply autism varies in its manifestation from person to person.

Some individuals with autism may be non-verbal and struggle with social interactions.

Others may have exceptional talents in specific areas like mathematics or art.

These differences make it crucial to appreciate the wide-ranging experiences of those with autism

Why are the two often connected?

Here are some of the reasons why autism causes anxiety in individuals;

Sensory overload

Probably the most common cause of anxiety in individuals with autism is the propensity to struggle with sensory overload.

Those with autism often experience the world differently to the neuro-typical.

It is common for autistic individuals to be extremely sensitive to sensory input such as loud noises, bright lights, or crowded spaces.

Everyday environments that might not be anxiety-inducing for neurotypical individuals can become overwhelming for those with autism.

This bombardment of the senses can trigger anxiety as individuals try to cope with their surroundings.

Social factors

Another hallmark of autism is a difficulty with social interactions.

For some, the fear of being misunderstood or judged can understandably lead to social anxiety.

It is important to note that the desire to connect with others is often present.

However it is the barriers that autism can create in communication and understanding can be frustrating and isolating.

If you placed yourself in the shoes of an autistic individual it is easy to see how these challenges would trigger anxiety.

Picture a situation where you struggle to recognise social cues, or sometimes you struggled to understand turns of phrase.

Simple interactions would cause spikes of worry and anxiety.

Breaks in routine

Routines can be the glue which help autistic individuals manage stress and anxiety.

It is well known that individuals with autism find comfort in predictability. Routines give them that predictability.

With that being the case, unexpected changes in their daily lives or schedules can cause distress and anxiety.

The need for sameness and predictability can lead to anxiety when confronted with unexpected situations.

Again if we make this into a real world scenario, picture someone with autism who makes the same commute to work every day.

They get on the same bus or the same train and this predicability makes them feel comfortable.

Now picture a driver’s strike which wasn’t widely communicated.

This is inconvenient for anyone but for someone with autism it could severely spike their anxiety levels.

Fear of being ostracised

Individuals with autism are no different to the neuro-typical in a number of ways.

They therefore often have a strong desire for social acceptance and connections.

The fear of rejection or not fitting in with their peers can be a constant source of anxiety.

This can end up affecting their self-esteem and overall well-being.

Communication struggles

As touched on above, communication challenges are another common trait with autism.

Expressing thoughts, feelings, and needs can therefore be challenging.

A difficulty in communication can lead to frustration and anxiety.

This is understandable as they may struggle to make their desires and concerns understood by others.

Supporting those with autism and anxiety

It is essential to approach the topic of anxiety in individuals with autism with kindness and understanding.

Those with autism face unique challenges in navigating a world designed for neurotypical individuals.

Support and intervention play a crucial role in helping them manage their anxiety.

This may involve strategies like sensory accommodations, social skills training, and therapy tailored to their specific needs.

Additionally, fostering an understanding environment can make a significant difference in reducing anxiety for all.

Summary – Why autism causes anxiety

Autism is well known to contribute to anxiety in individuals who experience it.

It can be sparked by a range of interactions, including such activities as simply having their photo taken.

It is important to recognise that anxiety is not a character flaw.

It is instead a natural response to the challenges they face in a world that may not always accommodate their unique needs.

A willingness to understand their perspective can go a long way in helping individuals with autism manage anxiety and thrive in their own way.

About the author

A collection of parents navigating our way around raising children with autism.

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