Autism and Mental Health
By Heather Jones
I recently attended a very interesting and informative conference run by the National Autistic Society entitled “Autism and Mental Health”. There was an array of prominent speakers from the fields of Psychology, Psychiatry and Education and I had the privilege to hear several presentations by Tony Attwood whom some of you may of heard of. His presentations were quite inspirational and gave me a lot of food for thought regarding helping young people with autism manage their anxiety. Mental health issues and depression in particular are higher in the autistic population than the neuro-typical population and it is important that we are mindful of this in our work with young people. I hope to introduce some relaxation and meditation sessions with students in the Base to help them manage their anxiety in a safe and positive way. The conference also highlighted the huge importance of physical exercise for students with autism to help them manage their stress and I will be thinking of creative ways to introduce more physical exercise into the curriculum.
Tony Attwood is a prominent expert in the field of autism and mental health and has written many good books on the subject – if you would like to check him out just ‘Google’ him and it will bring his website up. There are links on this website to videos of Tony offering advice to parents on many issues that young people with autism may face- is it called “Ask Doctor Tony” and you may find it useful.