Managing Anxiety in People with Autism: A Treatment Guide for Parents, Teachers and Mental Health Professionals

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Anxiety is one of the biggest challenges facing people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families. They can experience anxiety in all areas of their lives – school, family, and social life– and it compounds the difficulties they already may have with communicating, interacting socially, and controlling their emotions. Managing Anxiety in People with Autism is one of the first books to provide practical information about dealing with anxiety in people with ASD.

Drawing on her experience diagnosing and treating anxiety in people with ASD at the treatment centre she founded in Sydney, Australia, Dr. Chalfant provides clear, understandable explanations of the different types of anxiety disorders, how they affect people across the autism spectrum, and what interventions can help. The book teaches parents:

to know how and why their child is prone to anxiety
to understand their role in their child’s anxious behaviour
to recognize and respond to anxious behaviour appropriately
Case studies and research findings help to illustrate the author’s points and clarify the causes and symptoms of anxious behaviour.

Managing Anxiety explains a range of different types of strategies that can help manage and treat anxiety in school, home, and clinical settings and takes into consideration the different roles people play in a child’s or adult’s life: parent, sibling, teacher, health care provider. Readers learn about ways to modify behaviour and/or the environment to indirectly reduce anxiety, as well as interventions, such as medication or psychotherapy, which deal with symptoms directly. The discussion of more formal interventions– psychotherapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), and medication – show how these methods can target specific anxieties. Because anxiety is generally more common in parents and siblings of a child with ASD, the author also offers ways they too can reduce their symptoms.

Dr Chalfant’s book has received excellent reviews both in Australia and Internationally. It was a finalist in the International Book Awards!

“Professionals and parents working with people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are aware of the huge role that anxiety plays in their lives. Unfortunately, programs developed to reduce anxiety in typical people are not effective with this population. This book addresses this problem thoughtfully, comprehensively, and practically. It presents psychological wisdom for understanding anxiety in ASD and effective practical treatment approaches. It does this in a sophisticated way but with language and concepts that are understandable by parents and professionals. This book has a thorough, detailed, and conceptually clear explanation of what anxiety in ASD is, how it is experienced by people with ASD, and why it is so prevalent. It then goes on to offer a range of strategies with clear explanations and multiple examples to guide those interested in creating effective and productive interventions. This book represents a major advance in our ability to help people with ASD to confront one of their major difficulties and should be widely read and frequently used.”

Review by Gary B. Mesibov, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill