Summer Autism Assessment 087 459 7652

 

Thinking of a Summer Autism Assessment?  087 459 7652

Waterford Psychology

Summer Autism Assessment is a good idea.  The kids are home, you can do it when it suits you and the report will be ready in plenty time for when the child goes back to school.

Summer Autism Assessment 087 459 7652  from 295 euros + 150 for report

Next Funding Cycle

The next funding cycle will be at the end of September 2016. That is when you need to have your report in.

The assessment process

A comprehensive assessment process will make sure that all of your child’s needs are looked at.  We will look at their academic needs (cognitive) day to day function and independence in things like dressing and self care (adaptive), how they interact and communicate with others (observational) and get a good history of their development from birth to where we are now (developmental)

Summer Autism Assessment 087 459 7652   from 295 euros + 150 for report

The Report

A good report is what gets your child the help they need.

The report sets out all of the interventions your child will need to accommodate them and the plan for making sure they get the best possible help.

The purpose of the report is to get services in place like Resource hours an SNA or extra help in the classroom. The report also makes sure that there is enough information about your child in order to get funding for school or DCA or DLA or if they are older, to get help with a DARE application for higher education.

After the assessment the report will be emailed to you for your approval, and then a draft agreed between us all. The draft is then published and stands as the final report.

Waterford Psychology

Summer Autism Assessment 087 459 7652  Give us a call and a psychologist will be happy to chat with you.  

No obligation and all phone consultations are free

Thinking of a Summer Autism Assessment?

Summer Autism Assessment is a good idea.  The kids are home, you can do it when it suits you and the report will be ready in plenty time for when the child goes back to school.

Summer Autism Assessment 087 459 7652  from 295 euros + 150 for report

Next Funding Cycle

The next funding cycle will be at the end of September 2016. That is when you need to have your report in.

The assessment process

A comprehensive assessment process will make sure that all of your child’s needs are looked at.  We will look at their academic needs (cognitive) day to day function and independence in things like dressing and self care (adaptive), how they interact and communicate with others (observational) and get a good history of their development from birth to where we are now (developmental)

Summer Autism Assessment 087 459 7652   from 295 euros + 150 for report

Waterford Psychology

The Report

A good report is what gets your child the help they need.

The report sets out all of the interventions your child will need to accommodate them and the plan for making sure they get the best possible help.

The purpose of the report is to get services in place like Resource hours an SNA or extra help in the classroom. The report also makes sure that there is enough information about your child in order to get funding for school or DCA or DLA or if they are older, to get help with a DARE application for higher education.

After the assessment the report will be emailed to you for your approval, and then a draft agreed between us all. The draft is then published and stands as the final report.

Summer Autism Assessment 087 459 7652  Give us a call and a psychologist will be happy to chat with you.  

No obligation and all phone consultations are free

 

Waterford Psychology

Neurodiversity & Parents

Neurodiversity & Parents   Talk to a professional about Neurodiversity 087 3876841

Neurodiversity is the movement being driven mainly by  the people who are now adults, but who grew up as autistic children in a world not designed to accommodate them.

While as parents we may seek to investigate and research into ways to alleviate distress for our children it is important to understand why neurodiverse people are so against research which seeks to eliminate Autism.

Such approaches threaten their very existence, so of course this is seen as a fight for survival. Just as say a person with blonde hair who likes how they look would fight against research that was seeking to eliminate blondes.  In the main the neurodiverse see autism as their whole being rather than a part of them.

They prefer to be called Autistic rather than someone ‘with Autism’ for that very point

This issue is separate from the parents agenda that is mostly a well-meaning approach driven by trying to help their children have a better or more stress free or comfortable life, however the two approaches are often at loggerheads. We have those who have grown up Autistic who have carved out a life for themselves often by trial and error of what works for them, and the parents of newly diagnosed children seeing their children in great distress and searching for ways to help them which leads them to organisations researching treatments and elimination. Any parent seeing their child in distress would seek to eliminate that distress, however as parents of Autistic children we have to learn where the line is between helping our children with their diverse nature to eliminate obstacles while not eliminating the essence of what makes them individuals. In that vein we need to define the terminology and phraseology which is acceptable to use in the neurodiversity sphere.

This is an ongoing debate and one that is paving out new paths for neurodiversity acceptance so do feel free to comment and your comments may be added to the post to further understanding.

Summer Greetings from Waterford Psychology Assessment Service

Summer Greetings

Welcome to the Waterford Psychology message this holiday

087 459 7652    phone 4

ASD assessment from 295.00 plus 150 for report

So we all have a bit of time on our hands over the holidays to catch up on all the things we wanted to do for ages.

If an assessment is a top priority for 2016 to get the resources and help your little one needs for next year, then be aware that the funding deadline is fast approaching for September 2016.  After this date it will be next spring when your report can be considered again.

Be on the lookout for social concerns over the holiday period do they shy away too much? Seem to be overwhelmed? Prefer to be off on their own?

Are you concerned about speech development when you think of this time last year did you expect more progress by now?

Is there any clumsiness tripping over that you find difficult to explain a lack of co-ordination or balance?

It could be to just put your mind at ease or to chat about your concerns but try and do it early so we can help you with what you need.

Early intervention promotes the best outcomes we are constantly being told in the research for neurodevelopmental concerns regarding children and yet the waiting lists get longer.

At what age should you be thinking about interventions?  Well the research is very definite about the earlier the better as young brains develop throughout childhood and continue up until the teens.  Learned information gets processed and retained and pruning is influenced by environmental factors and is widely thought to represent learning.

Early intervention has many other benefits and will set the tone for your child’s later development.

An experienced professional is waiting to talk to you be it for Speech and Language Issues with an SLT Occupational functioning with an OT or a chat with Psychology Services.

087 459 7652

The ASD Report for Services and Benefits

The Report is what will be produced after you have an Autism or other mental health assessment which could be for DARE, NLN or SENO or Carers Allowance.  Talk to a professional now 087 459 7652

ASD LEARN

Services and State Benefits you are entitled to with an ASD Report  087 459 7652

The Report is your Key to Services, it is needed to hand in with any application for either extra benefits such as domiciliary  carers allowance or services from the school, college or other agencies.

You may also be entitled to a free travel pass and medical card or other benefits if you or your child has a diagnosis of a mental health condition such as Autism or other condition.

 087 459 7652    0873876841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

For children the most important agency will be the SENO – Special Education Needs Officer and the state agency to apply for your allowances as a carer.   You can use your allowances for therapy with private services or anything that helps you or the child to live a fulfilled life. Approximately 300 euros a month at least.

Why is the ASD Report for Services and Benefits so important?

The report from the psychologist who does the assessment tells the people who work with you or your child what they have to do to help or to make their service work for you.

So for example it will give recommendations on how your child can best access the curriculum to keep up with their work or it can inform the school what your child can tolerate or what they have difficulties with.  Then the school can adjust their demands to accommodate them.

Is a diagnosis enough?

In a word NO.  All the diagnosis says is that you or your child have a certain condition.  It doesn’t give any details of what you or the child will need to access the school curriculum or services.  You need to have The Report and that is given after assessment.

Autism Assessment

Autism Assessment & Diagnosis 

Trans dis team
Autism Assessment Team

Dublin Waterford Cork & Galway           

info@waterfordpsychology.com  087 459 7652       087 387 6841

Autistic Spectrum Disorders

How to get a Report and Services   See prices for the cost of assessment through direct referral                   

When you start the process of ASD assessment you will soon realise The Report is what everyone is asking for in order for your child to get the services treatments and interventions they need. The Report is the result of the ASD assessment and details what your child needs regarding treatment/interventions/resources.

The report is what comes out of an actual Autism Assessment.

You have 2 routes to the report

  1. State Assessment – Through the AON Process or other state services
  2. Private Assessment – Through direct referral

The Assessment of Need (AON) process

 087 459 7652    0873876841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

After concerns are reported regarding ASD through your child’s teacher/health nurse/GP/local child clinic, they will be placed in a queue for an Assessment of Need or AON.  When the child receives the AON the results give a list of professionals your child needs to see – if any at all.

The AON process can have the following outcomes

1 Find grounds for further assessment and give onward referrals to various professionals such as OT, SLT and Psychology.

  1. No onward referrals and your child does not need further assessment.

In effect the AON is a screening process to see if the concerns raised need any further investigation.

AON IS NOT AN AUTISM ASSESSMENT.  IT WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR CHILD SERVICES OR RESOURCES.  All it does is tell the health service which professionals if any should see your child.

You can then be placed on the waiting list for those people.  Waiting lists vary up and down the country from 9 months to 5 years or over in some cases.  The average seems to be around 18 months to 2 years to be seen.

The Private Route

The private route offers parents the opportunity to have their child immediately assessed and a report given which entitles them to all the services/interventions/resources they require.

Children can be referred through their parents or another professional who has concerns.

A screening appointment can be set up to determine if an assessment is required and will be shortly followed by the actual assessment for Autism. (Some parents prefer to skip the screening as they have sufficient cause to warrant assessment)

A good private assessment will look at your child’s educational/cognitive functioning, adaptive behaviour and clinical evaluation of their needs.  They will consult with preschools/schools/other professionals and yourselves to gain a good all round idea of the child’s needs in various settings.

You will then receive The Report that entitles you to apply for the services your child needs.  See prices for the cost of assessment

 087 459 7652    0873876841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

 

Aspergers Diagnosis in Later Life 087 459 7652

Why get an Aspergers diagnosis in later life?      

087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

 

Waterford Psychology

I have managed up until now and I don’t need any help so why get a diagnosis now?

This is a question that often comes up and the answer simply is that managing is not really living now is it?

Being able to get past things or get through the day or coping is less than the truly happy, content and fulfilled life you deserve.  The life you may see other people having and wonder why can’t that be me?

Getting into a program now can assist you to fulfill your dreams and goals and to gain inner peace and happiness.  You can get a rest from the constant turmoil of inner stress and never feeling that you are on top of life or that you have a value.

Aspergers Diagnosis in Later Life 087 459 7652

Anxiety drives thoughts to be always productive, measuring up and always on call which produces the stress you feel.  Perhaps you never understood where those thoughts come from or you may think that everyone has them or that you are the only person who thinks like that.

087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

If you stop and look up you will see that you have an amazing amount of productivity in various avenues that probably gives everyone around you a lot of satisfaction and help but you don’t feel the benefit of it.

Diagnosis is the start of the rest of your life which can be lived in a much more self satisfying and content way with interventions that come after the diagnostic process.

Aspergers Diagnosis in Later Life 087 459 7652

Call to talk to someone who really does understand your motivations and challenges…087 459 7652                                087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

 

Waterford Psychology

 

 

Gap Closing on Female to Male Autism

Waterford Psychology  

The gap is closing on Female to Male ratios in Autism

Call us  087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

The gap is closing on Female to Male ratios in Autism

There is no doubt that Autism in Females and particularly Female Asperger’s is harder to diagnose in girls.

A very insightful article from Autism Hampshire gives a good insight into how the gap is closing and why it exists in the first place.  Likely related to how girls are so much better at coping and may not see their difficulties as something that need intervention.

The different ways in which girls and women present under the traditional ‘big 3’ headings related to

      Social Communication
      Social interaction and understanding
      Social imagination which is highly associated with routines,  rituals and special interests
      are given in the examples below:

Girls are more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation  because they observe other children and copy them, perhaps masking the symptoms of Asperger syndrome  (Attwood, 2007).

Waterford Psychology

087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

Gap Closing on Female to Male Autism diagnosis intervention Dublin Waterford Cork 087 459 7652

irls are often more aware of and feel a need to interact socially.  They are involved in social play, but are often led by their peers rather than initiating social contact. Girls are more socially inclined and many have one special friend.

In our society, girls are expected to be social in their communication.Girls on the spectrum do not ‘do social chit chat’ or make ‘meaningless’ comments in order to facilitate social communication. The idea of a social hierarchy and how one communicates with people of different status can be problematic and get girls in to trouble with teachers

Evidence suggests that girls have better imagination and more pretend play (Knickmeyer et al, 2008). Manyhave a very rich and elaborate fantasy world with imaginary friends. Girls escape into fiction, and some live in another world with, for example, fairies and  witches.

The interests of girls in the spectrum are very often similar to those of other girls – animals, horses, classical literature – and therefore are not seen as unusual. It is not the special interests that differentiate them from their peers but it is the quality and intensity of these interests.         Many obsessively watch soap operas and have an intense interest in celebrities.

Diagnosis is important but more so are the interventions to lead on for afterwards as girls need very different help to overcome their challenges than boys.  087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

Read more of the article here  ….

Female Aspergers Failing Diagnosis

Waterford Psychology

Female Aspergers’ Failing Diagnosis                                                                    Call us to discuss  087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

Why is Female Aspergers so hard to Diagnose?

Why this form of neuro-diversity is so hard to diagnose and intervene is the presentation often mimics other conditions.  If you are presented with a teenager who is suffering from a mixture of traits plus anxiety, this is the most likely symptom that will be focused upon.  The person will be told not to worry it will sort itself out in time and will pass.  When the parent insists it’s more than this   or mentions a connection to Aspergers’ they may be given a quick run through of the big 3 of ASD communication/social interaction/stereotypical behaviours.

So it’s a case of does she talk to people? YES

Does she have a friend in school? YES

Does she have a fixation about one particular interest? NO

Does she put her hands over her ears? NO

Then it’s not Autism.

To understand why this type of screening doesn’t give an accurate picture we have to look more closely at how those difficulties manifest in the neuro-diversity of Aspergers’

087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

Female Aspergers Failing Diagnosis – Get an answer 087 459 7652

Communication in Aspergers

The way that communication difficulties present in female Aspergers’ is often in the way communication works rather than, if it happens at all.  A girl may very well speak with others but in order for her to try and have a conversation produces crippling anxiety.  She constantly battles with intrusive thoughts such as ‘what should I say, when is it my turn to speak, oh no I missed it again now it’s the wrong time to come in.  They are going to laugh at a stupid thing I say. Think of a time someone else had this conversation and do what they did’.  With the thought process occupied with the pragmatics of the conversation they are not in flow naturally but are mimicking others they have seen, remembering successful scenarios to play out and hopefully will ‘get away with it’  and then it will end.

Waterford Psychology

School life is a constant worry about being told or asked to speak in a group situation.   Teachers may think they are helping the nervous pupil by challenging them to speak about something they are good at for example if the girl is good at history the teacher may say ‘tell us about the Victorians you are very good at this subject’ The narrative running through the girls head is something like ‘oh no she is not going to let me off.  I can’t do this, everyone will find out I’m not really good at it at all’.

Anxiety, Self-doubt and low self-esteem are common factors with Aspergers’ in both male and female presentations.  However at a glance the traits may be missed more in the girls whom are much more adept at hiding their true difficulties than boys.

Female Aspergers Failing Diagnosis – Get an answer 087 459 7652

Social interaction 

At school the Aspergers’ child may appear to be socially functional in that they have one or a small few friends.  However they often feel they are on the back foot with the friend /s.  They are easily led, feel that they have to go along with what the friend wants as they don’t trust their own judgment and use them to an extent to speak for them and allow the limelight and focus to fall on them as much as possible.  They may also befriend a person with similar challenges to themselves and feel too intimidated to mix with the ‘popular’ kids. Interaction is usually in school only and they find enormous relief to get home and finally be alone without the pressures that interaction brings.  So there is not much carry on outside of school time.  Helpful parents and teachers often encourage participation in extra-curricular activities in order to promote socialisation outside of school however this is often more anxiety producing and exhausting.

Aspergers’ children want friends and to fit in because they feel so different and awkward from others, however there is only so much ‘fitting in’ they can do in a day.

Waterford Psychology

Stereotypical behaviours

Aspergers’ children and adults often have many different interests and talents.  The compulsive and obsessive way they go at tasks often makes them very proficient at what they do but they rarely feel good at anything.  They have a picture of perfection in their minds eye due to an extremely analytical brain process and find themselves coming up short when assessing their own efforts.  They are confused and don’t trust others opinions when they say things like ‘that’s amazing’ or ‘that’s really good’ they assume people are just being kind or encouraging because what they have done is (to their judgement) so inadequate.  (After all it’s not perfect so why would they say it’s good?)

The way in which they focus on a task is to be obsessed about it for a time then drop it for something else later.  So you may have an extremely talented person who can do many things rather than fixated on one.

087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

Female Aspergers Failing Diagnosis – Get an answer 087 459 7652

Sensory Issues

A feeling of being constantly overwhelmed by the world is a characteristic trait of Aspergers and ASD in general.  Sounds, sights and smells are all experienced in a heightened state of awareness and combine to converge and overwhelm the senses, defying the Aspergers need to categorise and sort them for processing.

No sooner has something been assigned a place in their mind then it changes category again.   Initial processing is often sorted into good and bad in order to try and make sense of the world.  This produces a dichotomous thought process that leaves no room for shades of grey and often lands the person in a state of constant dilemma.  They are sure the item is rightly categorised as changing one’s mind is not an option. After all if something has been filed as black, how can it be reclassified as white?  This is not logical.  As one can appreciate the knock on effect of this is they learn not to trust their judgement but continue in the thought process for want of a better strategy to cope with what is going on around them.

A comprehensive assessment including  Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy and Clin/Ed Psych can help to devise an intervention plan to address all issues mentioned above.

087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

 Female Aspergers Failing Diagnosis – Get an answer 087 459 7652

 

Waterford Psychology

 

Mindfulness for ASD Aspergers & ADHD

Mindfulness for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Aspergers and ADHD

Now available in WATERFORD CORK GALWAY AND DUBLIN

087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

 Introduction

Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects functioning in multiple areas. Recent studies show that autism is often accompanied by other psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, inattention and distress. Evidence points to depression being the most common psychiatric disorder seen in autism (Ghaziuddin et al., 2002). Especially adults with a relatively high cognitive ability tend to develop symptoms of depression, possibly because they are more aware of expectations of the outside world and their perceived inability to meet those expectations.

Symptoms of depression in adults with autism differ to those in other individuals, and range from an increase in difficulty with change to an increased sensitivity for sensory stimuli (Ghaziuddin et al., 2002). An important aspect related to depression and distress in people with autism is the tendency to ruminate. This can be described as having repetitive thoughts, a process which is very difficult to stop. Adults with autism, for instance, often lay awake at night, pondering about the events of the day, analyzing them in detail. The tendency of people with autism to ruminate appears related to the detailed information processing style that characterizes autism.

087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

Treatment in Autism

Various interventions have been devised to alleviate distress and co morbid symptoms in autism, although evidence of their efficacy is still limited. Most of these interventions are aimed at adapting the environment to meet the needs of the person with autism. Notwithstanding the importance of such interventions, it has become increasingly clear that there is a need for therapies that offer tools that people with autism can use themselves to actively tackle problem situations and reduce distress. Especially the adults with high functioning autism may be able to acquire and use self-help techniques they can utilize in daily life.

Recently, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) were modified for the benefit of high-functioning individuals with autism. Both therapies aim to reduce co morbid symptoms in autism and alleviate distress in general. In CBT, dysfunctional thoughts and emotions are analyzed and modified into more functional thoughts and emotions. Recent preliminary studies in autism show promising results, especially for symptoms of anxiety and depression (Weiss & Lunsky, 2010). However, generalizability of the CBT skills seems limited.

Furthermore, CBT appears challenging for individuals with autism because it requires analyzing and talking about thoughts and feelings, which calls upon communication and theory of mind skills that are usually impaired in people with autism. This stresses the need to develop and examine more interventions for people with autism.  087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

In MBSR, a person learns to focus their attention on the present moment, which impedes ruminative thoughts and emotions. MBSR has recently been modified for people with autism, taking into account their information processing characteristics. A clear merit of this intervention is that it requires few theory of mind and communication skills, since thoughts and emotions are not analyzed. During the MBSR training, meditation skills are taught, which the individual can utilize in their everyday life, in order to reduce rumination and symptoms of distress. The skills can be applied in any situation a person encounters in their life. A drawback of MBSR is the time involved; participants need to practice at home for half an hour to an hour a day during the training. For the individuals with ASD who do the training, MBSR seems an effective treatment to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and rumination (Spek et al., submitted).

In the following passages we will elaborate on the theoretical and practical aspects of an MBSR group intervention for high functioning adults with ASD. We will end with a discussion about the effects of MBSR in this  group, as recorded from a randomized controlled trial and from clinical practice.

Theoretical aspects of MBSR in adults with ASD

In the MBSR training module, the concepts ‘doing-mode’ and ‘being-mode’ are central. Both modes are described as conditions of the brain: When the brain is in a doing-mode, it is thinking and actively seeking solutions for problems. The brain is then focused on achievement and outcome. However, when there is nothing you can do or say to solve the problem, it is not useful and often even frustrating and counterproductive to keep searching for solutions (ruminating). In these situations it would be better to stop searching and accept the situation as it is. This state of mind can be described as a being-mode: not wishing to change, not worrying about goals in the future, but experiencing what is present at that moment and accepting the way it is.

Often, participants in the MBSR group ask if it is possible to do something when you are in the beingmode. We then explain that you can ride a bike in the being-mode if you concentrate on the present, on, for example, the wind in your hair or feeling your muscles.

If you ride the bike in the doing-mode, you are not aware of the present moment, but instead thinking about work or other things that are in the past or future.

While the doing-mode can be very useful when trying to achieve something,  people with autism often remain in the doing-mode when this is not, or no longer, of benefit. When lying in bed, for instance, and wanting to go to sleep, or when there is a problem that cannot be solved, people with autism often keep pondering. In these situations they often feel the urge to ‘stop thinking’, but are unable to do so. For many people with autism, it is very difficult to create a peaceful or still mind.  087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

During the MBSR training, the participants learn to gain more control over the focus of the mind, for instance by actively directing attention to breathing or to certain parts of the body. When the attention is thus focused, it can feel as if the mind is more at peace, because the attention is diverted away from thoughts and actions, towards a more peaceful focus and thus into the being-mode. This can help to stop the thought cycle and fall asleep.  When people with ASD learn to influence the mode of the brain, it helps them to actively create a more peaceful mind, by shifting from the doing mode  to the being-mode.

Another key aspect of the MBSR training for people with ASD is acceptance of the situation as it is.   Many people waste energy on trying to change things that cannot be changed. Acceptance often requires less energy than keeping up the fight for something that cannot realistically be changed. This is always a theme of the MBSR training and it is one that is recognizable for many adults with ASD.

 Practical aspects

MBSR can be taught in a group or individually,  using the book ‘Mindfulness in adults with ASD’. This book has so far been published in Dutch and German; it has yet to be translated into English.   During the MBSR training, different meditation techniques are taught. These techniques are practiced in daily life situations (for instance at home or at work), accompanied by an audio file. The meditations have been adapted for the information processing style of autism. For example, words or sentences that are ambiguous or that require imagination skills were avoided. One example  is that in regular mindfulness, participants are asked to breath in and direct the breath to the toes. In our try-out MBSR training, a man with autism remarked, while pointing to his stomach: ‘I can’t do that because my lungs end here’. Based on those and other experiences of the try-out group, we modified the instructions.

The meditation techniques can be practiced lying down, while sitting, walking or in any other way that feels comfortable. The length of the meditations vary between five and forty minutes, depending on what is convenient and what suits the individual’s needs. During the MBSR training, the participants explore which meditation techniques they find helpful and in which situations they experience most benefit. After the nine-week mindfulness training, each individual draws up a schedule of meditations they want to integrate into their daily life including when and where to incorporate them. Often, they will ask someone close to them to help them keep practicing mindfulness.  087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

It is important to also mention that in some situations, MBSR is not advisable. For instance when the person is experiencing any sort of upheaval in their life, they may not have the focus or the energy for the MBSR training, since it requires daily home practice.  Furthermore, acute psychiatric conditions (psychosis or severe depression) are contraindications for following MBSR and require other interventions before MBSR should be considered.

 Training effects of MBSR in autism. 

MBSR in ASD has been studied in adolescents and adults. Two studies were performed in adolescents with either high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome and results were promising (Singh et al., 2011a,b). In these intervention studies, the adolescents were taught to shift their attention from their emotion (anger, frustration), to focus on the soles of their feet. The results showed a decrease in anger and aggression.

In our study, 42 adults with ASD were randomly assigned into a 9-week MBSR training or a wait-list control group. The results showed a significant reduction in depression, anxiety and rumination in the group who followed the MBSR training, as opposed to the control group.

Furthermore, positive affect increased and negative affect decreased in the intervention group, but not in the control group. We concluded that adults with ASD can acquire meditation skills and apply these to their private life in a way that reduces distress and improves wellbeing (Spek et al., submitted). Outside of the study we also asked the participants in person if and how the MBSR group training helped them.

Firstly, we noticed that on average, each group (with 10 to 12 participants) contained one person who reported no benefit from MBSR. Although more research is necessary to examine predictors of the benefits from MBSR in this group, one of adults with ASD who participated in an MBSR group offered an interesting suggestion. She hypothesized that treatment benefit might be related to the ability to ‘feel the body’; if one cannot feel any bodily sensations, it may be difficult to focus on the body or breathing. This may impede the ability to benefit from MBSR.

When looking at the participants who did report positive effects from MBSR, the  improvement mentioned the most, was the ability to fall asleep more easily, often by directing attention to the body (body scan) or to the act of breathing. Secondly, many participants mentioned that MBSR helped them to be less hindered by ruminative thoughts, by directing attention onto something else. Most of these participants practiced the thinking meditation (focusing on thoughts passing by) or the breathing meditation, mostly during the day, in order to stop ruminating and creating a moment of rest in their mind. This helped them to reduce distress in challenging situations, for instance at work. Thirdly, participants mentioned that MBSR enabled them to be gentler and more accepting toward themselves; some realized that they set their sights too high, which inevitably leads to failure and distress.

Before going to the conclusions, I would like to add that I really enjoyed giving MBSR to adults with ASD. I especially enjoy and envy their drive and sense of humor. An example of this, which I will never forget, is that during one of the training sessions, a participant of the group asked: ‘what is a mantra?’ My colleague trainer explained that a mantra is a word or sentence that you can repeat in your mind, which makes you feel better. Then another participant remarked (smiling): ‘when I feel down, I’d rather imagine an image’, while with his hands, he outlined a woman’s body. At that moment, the man sitting next to me lights up and says: ‘Ooh, a womantra’.

In conclusion, MBSR seems an effective intervention for reducing co morbid symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress in high functioning adults with ASD. Furthermore, they are able to actively acquire techniques that can help them gain more control and positively influence their wellbeing.  087 459 7652    087 387 6841  info@waterfordpsychology.com

Reference Literature:

Ghaziuddin, M., Ghaziuddin, N, & Greden, J. (2002). Depression in persons with autism: Implications  for research and clinical care. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 4, 299-303. Singh, N.N., Lancioni, G.E., Manikam, R., Winton, A.S.W., Singh, A.N.A., Singh, J., & Singh,

A.D.A. (2011) A mindfulness-based strategy for self-management of aggressive behavior in adolescents with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5, 1153-1158.

Singh, N.N., Lancioni, G.E., Singh, A.D.A., Winton, A.S.W., Singh, A.N.A., & Singh, J.

(2011). Adolescents with Asperger syndrome can use a mindfulness-based strategy to control their aggressive behavior. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5, 1103-1109.

Spek, A.A., Van Ham, N., & Nyklíček, I. Mindfulness-based stress reduction in adults with an autism  spectrum disorder, a randomized controlled trial. Submitted. 

Weiss, J.A., & Lunsky, Y. (2010). Group cognitive behaviour therapy for adults with Asperger  syndrome and anxiety or mood disorder: a case series. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 17, 438-446.

Information about the author:

Dr. Annelies Spek is clinical psychologist and senior researcher at the adult autism center in the south of the Netherlands (Eindhoven). Her PhD thesis was entitled:  cognitive profiles of adults with high functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger syndrome. Now she examines the effects of treatment in adults with autism. She also gives lectures about diagnosis and treatment in adults with autism.

The original book ‘Mindfulness in adults with autism’, has not been translated in English yet.

Signs of ASD and Autism in Children 087 459 7652

Signs of ASD and Autism in Children 087 459 7652

Act Early ASD Waterford Psychology

  • Appears disinterested or unaware of other people or what’s going on around them.
  • Doesn’t know how to connect with others, play, or make friends.
  • Prefers not to be touched, held, or cuddled.
  • Doesn’t play “pretend” games, engage in group games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways.
  • Has trouble understanding or talking about feelings.
  • Doesn’t seem to hear when others talk to him or her.
  • Doesn’t share interests or achievements with others (drawings, toys).

If you have any concerns call to speak with a Psychologist free of charge Signs of ASD and Autism in Children 087 459 7652

Signs of ASD and Autism in Children 087 459 7652

Act Early ASD

  • Appears disinterested or unaware of other people or what’s going on around them.
  • Doesn’t know how to connect with others, play, or make friends.
  • Prefers not to be touched, held, or cuddled.
  • Doesn’t play “pretend” games, engage in group games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways.
  • Has trouble understanding or talking about feelings.
  • Doesn’t seem to hear when others talk to him or her.
  • Doesn’t share interests or achievements with others (drawings, toys).

If you have any concerns call to speak with a Psychologist free of charge Signs of ASD and Autism in Children 087 459 7652