ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM:
A SELF-HELP GUIDE USING CBT
The dramatic increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum conditions among children and adolescents and the correspondingly large number of youth transitioning into adulthood has created an urgent need to address the mental health problems faced by many adults on the autism spectrum. Nearly a half million youth with autism will enter adulthood over the next decade and most will continue to require some level of support. Although autism symptoms may improve with age, co-occurring mental health issues may worsen in adolescence or adulthood. As a result, there are a sizable number of adults who are now seeking help to deal with feelings of social isolation, interpersonal difficulties, anxiety, depressed mood, and coping problems. Unfortunately, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and even the diagnosis of an autism spectrum condition itself often go unrecognized. It is only recently that mental health professionals have begun to appreciate the complex challenges faced by a “lost generation” of adults with autism spectrum conditions such as Asperger syndrome who were unidentified in childhood and have now become an underserved group.
Evidence is beginning to emerge for interventions addressing the mental health needs of this growing and overlooked population of adults, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has direct applicability to more capable adults with on the spectrum who have difficulty understanding, managing, and expressing emotions. It has been shown to be effective in changing the way a person thinks about and responds to feelings such as anxiety and depression. With CBT, the individual learns skills to modify thoughts and beliefs through a variety of strategies which improve interaction with others in helpful and appropriate ways, thereby promoting self-regulation and mental health. It is a goal-oriented approach and primarily emphasizes here-and-now problems, regardless of one’s history, traits, or diagnosis. CBT also provides a more structured approach than other types of psychotherapy, relies less on insight and judgment than other models, and focuses on practical problem-solving. Low intensity CBT holds considerable promise as an effective intervention for improving the quality of life and psychological well-being of many adults with autism spectrum conditions.Award-winning author Dr. Lee A. Wilkinson's book presents strategies derived from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), adapted specifically for autistic adults with mild symptoms who struggle with social communications skills, to help them manage anxiety, and depression, and improve their psychological well-being. This self-help guide is written for individuals in the early and middle years of adulthood, with and without a formal diagnosis, who share features associated with autism spectrum conditions. It is also appropriate for adults who recognize their autistic traits, even though they may not have experienced major social difficulties and clinical impairment, but who want to improve their emotional well-being.
The author takes the best of CBT therapeutic techniques to facilitate greater self-understanding, self-advocacy, and better decision-making in life-span activities such as employment and interpersonal relationships. Accessible and easy-to-read, this self-help guide provides evidence-based tools that can be used to learn new self-fulfilling ways of thinking, feeling, and doing while embracing one's individuality and uniqueness. It includes questionnaires, forms/worksheets, and exercises to help the reader:
- Evaluate his or her autistic traits and discover their cognitive style.
- Identify and modify the thoughts and beliefs that underlie and maintain the cycles of anxiety, depression, and anger.
- Apply therapeutic techniques such as mindfulness, positive self-talk, guided imagery, and problem-solving.
- Accept the past and achieve unconditional self-acceptance.
- Deal effectively with perfectionism and low frustration tolerance.
- Avoid procrastination and learn to maintain the positive changes to their progress.
Honored as an Award-Winning Finalist in the “Health: Psychology/Mental Health” category of the 2016 Best Book Awards, Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT is an essential self-help book for adults on the higher end of the autism spectrum, and those who think they might be on the spectrum, looking for ways to understand and cope with their emotional challenges and improve their psychological well-being. Family members, friends, and others touched by autism will also find this self-help book a valuable resource.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements. 1. Introduction. Adults on the Autism Spectrum. 2. Where Are You on the Autism Spectrum? 3. Self-Analysis and Your Cognitive Style. 4. The ABCs of Emotions. 5. Rationality and Scientific Thinking. 6. Imagery, Mindfulness and Self-Talk. 7. Maintaining Your Changes. Appendix A. Autism Quotient (AQ). Appendix B. Empathy Quotient (EQ). Appendix C. Systemizing Quotient (SQ). Appendix D. ABC Worksheet. Appendix E. Thought - Feeling Worksheet. Appendix F. Unhelpful Thinking Habits Record Form. Appendix G. CBT Self-Help Thought Record Form. Appendix H. Daily Mood and Thought Worksheet.
Self-Talk Record Form. Appendix J. Coping Thought Worksheet. Appendix K. Problem Solving Worksheet. Appendix L. Maintaining Change Worksheet. Unhelpful Thinking Habits. Major Irrational Beliefs. Reference List. About the Author. Appendix I.
'From his many years as an autism professional and cognitive-behavioural therapist, Dr Wilkinson shows an excellent understanding of perceptions and thought processes of people on the autism spectrum, which he explains so clearly in a way people on the autism spectrum can relate to. This book will not only help people on the autism spectrum to gain a stronger understanding of who they are, but also offers a way to overcome anxiety and depression by working with their thought processes rather than attempting to 'banish' or 'cure' them. An important resource for a group of people whose needs are not static.' - Chris Mitchell, author of Mindful Living with Asperger’s Syndrome and Asperger’s Syndrome and Mindfulness
'Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum will be of great value to people with autism spectrum conditions who experience anxiety and depression. It is a self-help guide which provides practical advice on living well, tailored to individuals on the autism spectrum. Using strategies based around Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, it offers a positive approach to managing anxiety and depression.' - Jeanette Purkis, autism and mental health self-advocate, author of Finding a Different Kind of Normal: Misadventures with Asperger Syndrome, and The Wonderful World of Work: A Workbook for Asperteens
'When people ask me if there is anything I'd change about my Asperger syndrome, I offer this firm reply: I'd like to shackle and disable my anxiety and depression. They work together as twin dragons bent on disabling confident and reliable thinking. Wilkinson's accurate analysis and applicable supports give me hope and more reason to keep working on defeating these nasties.' - Liane Holliday Willey, author of Pretending to be Normal and Safety Skills for Asperger Women
Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum is available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Amazon, Walmart.com, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Books-A-Million and other online book retailers.
Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, NCSP is a licensed and nationally certified school psychologist, chartered psychologist, and certified cognitive-behavioral therapist. He provides consultation services and best practice guidance to school systems, agencies, advocacy groups, and professionals on a wide variety of topics related to children and youth with autism spectrum disorder. He is also a university educator and school psychology trainer. His research and professional writing has focused primarily on behavioral consultation and therapy, and evidence-based practice in assessment and intervention for autism spectrum disorder. He has published numerous journal articles on these subjects both in the US and internationally. Dr. Wilkinson is author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. He is also editor of a best-selling text in the APA School Psychology Book Series, Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Adolescents: Evidence-Based Assessment and Intervention in Schools. His latest book is A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Schools (2nd Edition).