Editors Stephen M. Edelson and Jane Botsford Johnson

Understanding and Treating Anxiety in Autism, is now available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.  The book is edited by ARI’s executive director, Stephen M. Edelson, and past ARI Board member, Jane B. Johnson, and consists of chapters written by leading experts in the autism field. Understanding and Treating Anxiety in Autism summarizes the current perspectives and research on anxiety in autism including neurology, medical, immunology, gastrointestinal, nutrition, sensory, and behavioral.

Anxiety is a prevalent and often debilitating condition for individuals on the autism spectrum. This book promotes a multidisciplinary approach to intervention and treatment of the condition, providing a professional understanding of the underlying causes and available treatments.

With a foreward by David Amaral, PhD, and chapters co-authored by well-known advocates and pioneering researchers, contributors examine factors including sensory processing issues, sleep impairments, and the crossover between the autonomic nervous system and immune system. The book expands upon current areas of research, including immune activation and the role of environmental toxicants, dietary and nutritional support, the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, and individualized methods of managing stress and anxiety.

Providing an invaluable resource for professionals and academics seeking further insight into anxiety and autism, this book explores contemporary research and sets the groundwork for the most effective methods of treatment for individuals of all ages.

You can order your copy directly from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

What was the initial inspiration behind Understanding and Treating Anxiety in Autism?

Anxiety is one of the most debilitating, challenging-to-treat conditions suffered by children, teenagers, and adults on the entire autism spectrum. We need to understand the various underlying reasons for anxiety in autism in order to provide appropriate and effective treatment for each individual. Interestingly, many sub-fields of autism address anxiety but they administer very different treatment approaches.
Since there are numerous reasons for anxiety, the most efficient and effective treatment approach can best be accomplished by taking a multidisciplinary perspective.  This includes understanding their neurology (neuro structure, autonomic nervous system), biochemistry (immune, gastrointestinal), nutritional status, styles of sensory processing, and observable behavior. Once we can identify the most likely reason(s) for anxiety in each individual, we will then be better able to develop an effective treatment plan.

We are seeing a lot of parents and teachers feeling overwhelmed right now. If they are just beginning to understand the relationship between anxiety and autism, what are some small initial steps they can take to create a less stressful environment?

The chapter authors describe many conditions and behaviors typically associated with anxiety including gastrointestinal dysfunction, immune impairment, sensory dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies, sleep disturbances, challenging behaviors, emotions such as worries and fears, and much more.
As evident throughout the book, the environment is often considered a major contributor to anxiety including excessive sensory stimulation, social interactions, and even the presence of toxic substances. These underlying reasons can likely be identified through neuro and biomedical assessments, direct observation (e.g., functional behavior analysis), interviews with care providers and teachers, and administering valid checklists and questionnaires.

Who do you think will benefit from Understanding and Treating Anxiety in Autism?

The book provides a thorough and detailed analysis of anxiety and is focused primarily on autism spectrum disorder.  Given that anxiety is one of the most difficult-to-treat conditions associated with autism, any and all insight into understanding and treating this condition will be a valuable resource for physicians, therapists, parents, and those on the autism spectrum.

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