When I ask parents what troubles them most about their children the answer is all too often ‘their anxiety’. Studies show that 43% of children with PDD meet the criteria for at least 1 anxiety disorder and a systematic review of 31 studies involving 2121 children with autism spectrum disorder showed that 39.6% met the criteria for at least one anxiety disorder. It is thought that this figures are actually underestimations of the true levels of anxiety in the autism population as for many non verbal children their anxiety manifests as behavioural issues and the true underlying cause is not realised.
Clearly anxiety is a very common problem for children with ASD. The causes of anxiety are numerous and often multifactorial. Below I’ve tried to summarise some of the common causes and treatments available to help reduce anxiety in our children.. and in ourselves.
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety involves imbalances in monoamine neurotransmitters and glutamate, inflammatory markers and brain derived neurotrophic factor.
It therefore involves the :
How can we help our children overcome their anxieties?
1. Treat any underlying infections – e.g. yeast, Clostridia, Lyme’s Disease, Streptococcal infections, Bartonellia
2. Encourage Exercise
3. Look for and treat any underlying biological causes – examine their gut function, immune system functioning and offer mitochondrial support.
4. Address any hormonal imbalances
5. Reduce oxidative stress
6. Help natural detoxification and limit exposure to environmental toxins
7. Treat any fatty acid and cholesterol imbalances.
What treatments may help?
Anxiety in our children is all too common. Anxiety affects every part of a child’s life and makes school and play time so much more difficult than it needs to be. Hopefully some of the strategies listed above will help your child overcome their anxiety and make they lives