Autism is a spectrum of complexity and differs for every individual.


Autism is a spectrum of complexity and differs for every individual. It is a developmental
disorder, however, for many of those diagnosed with Autism, they also experience some
additional struggles with sensory integration, as well as mental health issues (Depression,
Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive). For a parent, it can be truly overwhelming as you have to learn
how to best meet your child’s needs, as well as your own. Recognizing that your child’s brain
just works differently and that their individualism are their gifts, not their weaknesses. As a
parent of two boys with Autism, who present totally different, with one being diagnosed at an
early age, while the other at school age, learning to parent each of them has been challenging.
One thing I have learned is that it’s ok to ask for support, for them and for yourself, and in
doing so, is not viewed as a weakness or your inability to be a good parent. As a parent, you
have to recognize the areas your child is struggling with, and then be their advocate to assist
them in learning how to adapt, manage and regulate themselves in society. You just have to do
things differently, and that’s OK.
“Life is a journey for all of us, and there is no direct path, but therapy has played an integral part for all of us. As my boys prepare to enter their next phase of life of post-secondary education, I am confident they will attain their goals, it’s just going to take time.” – Parent of two boys with autism.

Conceptual Framework of Autism

The conceptual framework for autism is quite complicated. There are a lot of comorbid disorders that occur with ASD. Comorbid is defined as two or more separate disorders being diagnosed in one individual. Several reviews have indicated that the most comorbid psychiatric conditions with high functioning ASD include AD/HD, Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Depression and Bipolar Disorder (Mazzonem, Ruta, and Reale, 2012)


Depression is at a higher rate in the ASD population (Compared to typical population). What might this look like?

  • Loss of special interests
  • Increased Cognitive Rigidity
  • Decreases in Restorative Non-social Time
  • Downward Social Spiral

What does it look like in ASD?

  • Increased restlessness
  • Increases in rumination
  • May request that you confirm the same information over and over
  • May increase routines ad rituals as a way to bring order into their life
  • May become more ridged in their thinking
  • May spend more time with special interest, using this as a way to escape situations that invoke anxiety
  • May regress to earlier behaviors


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

McNally and colleagues (2013) – The Coping Cat Program for Children with Anxiety and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

  • “May be feasible and effective program for reducing clinically significant levels of anxiety in
    children with high-functioning ASD.”
  • Limitations – Need larger sample sizes and for it to be replicated.
  • Sleep, Diet, and Exercise
  • Self-Regulation Strategies – thought Regulation
    • Understanding Emotions
    •  Identifying the Situation
    • Changing Distorted Thought Patterns
  • Self-Regulation Strategies – Physical Regulation
    • Diaphragmatic Breathing
    • Positive Imagery
    • Progressive Muscle Relaxation

*Services are provided by Experienced Licensed Therapists who are credentialed with most insurance companies.

Please contact Affinity Family Support Services PC
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