Autistic Spectrum Disorder - Part 1
At present I see many teenagers with a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are stuck. Many live at home and do not go to school. Some have struggled to meet the combined academic and social demands and feel unmotivated and are difficult to engage.
Severe Depression may affect at least 3 % of young people under the age of 18 years.
About 2% of all people have ASD.
Depression is common in teenagers with ASD, affecting as much as 30-70%, impairing them in their progress at school.
Most people with sevee depression are troubled by suicidal thoughts. Many people with ASD have difficulty in understanding their feelings, expressing themselves and thinkign very literally. The latter point is important as some young people with ASD may think that that because they have thoughts of hurting themselves, that they are going to die and therefore everything is hopeless.
THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE IF YOU HAVE FAITH TO INFLUENCE CHANGES IN YOUR LIFE THIS VERY DAY.
Over the years I have met some remarkable people. I met parents who supported their son to play special needs football after school. It gave hiom a team, friends and asense of really belonging. He became physically fit and and able and was less aggressive at home in the evenings.
Some parents have been amazing and have helpt heir children remian in sport and even excel in actvities like football and para-Olympic Taekwondo.
Recenlty Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old ,Climate Change Activitist , has been clearly speaking for our need to svae our planet and our future right now. She has talked about having ASD which she regards asa superpower, which helps her see issues clearly.
Overall young people with ASD and depression aged 11-25 years need to have
1. Support in the form of diagnosis of the depression and treatment by way of therapeutic engagement with medication in some cases where depression is severe.
2. Support within thier family so they can be steered inot talking about theri situation and directed by the family to be more active and engage in new hobbies. If a young person with ASD can find their superpower and go with it then the world opens up for them and they can be unstuck.
3. Suicidal thoughts are problematic as some young people assume that the presence of these thoughts means they will die and that they are severely limited. In the end suicidal thoughts are just thoughts. A young person should be encouraged to talk abotu these thoughts and we as parents, friends, relatives, health professionals and teachers and members of the public need to listen. In listening and encouragin a young person to talk we are accepting them and showing we can bear their suffering and are genuinely trying ot make sense of it for them.
4. We may need to be prepared to remian engaged with young people with depression and ASD for a long time i.e. for the best part of a school year or even two years. If we can help young people set some of therei own goals in recovery, then we can help them plan to reach the goals and if they are on the path, then we can be more hopefull about the completion of our joint work and had over responsibility to the family.
5. Regular phsyical activities and a clear timetbale of activities supervised by their parents.
There will be more to follow on this important subject.