Autism and anxiety often appear together, but many professionals struggle to identify the anxiety because symptoms of autism covering up the symptoms of anxiety. As a program for autism spectrum teens, we’re always very interested in new screening tools and identifying methods that could help give our students a clearer diagnosis.

Recently, Drexel University published their results on a new method a professor has been using to identify anxiety in children with autism–and the results showed that the method is effective.

Why anxiety symptoms get overshadowed by autism

Anxiety symptoms are often internalized. This means that all the important stuff–the fear, turmoil, and panic–is happening inside themselves, which means it’s not as easy to spot as, let’s say, the flu. For neurotypical individuals, they at least have the ability to fully express themselves, making it easier to convey what they’re going through when struggling with anxiety–teens with autism often don’t have that luxury.

As a program for autism spectrum teens, we understand that individuals with autism grapple with expressing themselves. This can make it extremely hard for them to explain or bring attention to the fact that they’re experiencing anxiety. Even for experienced clinicians–and even parents–it can be hard to tell whether a symptom is being caused by autism or anxiety.

Connor Kerns, PhD, an assistant research professor in the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute of Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health, explained the struggle to tell the difference between the two:

“Anxiety is considered an internalizing symptom, in that it is mostly felt by the person inside their bodies and minds and is not always obvious to others. For example, a child may avoid a social situation because they are not socially motivated — a symptom of autism spectrum disorder — or because they are afraid of being socially rejected — a symptom of anxiety.”

It’s clear to see how that could be confusing for a parent and for a child with autism.

This type of research is incredibly important

As a program for autism spectrum teens, we understand the importance of a clear and correct diagnosis. If a child with autism has anxiety, but that anxiety never gets identified or treated, it’s incredibly likely it would hinder that child’s growth and success in the future. This is why it’s so important for this research to be conducted. With this new tool, professionals everywhere may be able to diagnose more accurately, thus benefiting the lives of individuals with autism.

Seven Stars is a program for autism spectrum teens

Seven Stars is a program for autism spectrum teens. We combine residential treatment with adventure therapy to create a multifaceted, effective program for adolescents, ages 13 to 18, struggling with emotional and behavioral issues as a result of their neurodevelopmental disorder.

We embed the objectives we have for each student into daily activities and teach emotional wellness skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, social awareness, academic skills, self-efficacy and prosocial behaviors. In our program for autism teens, we strive to help each of our students develop the skills necessary to live full, productive lives.

For more information about how our program for autism spectrum teens at Seven Stars can help your family, contact us today at 844-601-1167.

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