OK, my theory is that anxiety in someone with an autistic spectrum condition is different from anxiety in someone who is “neurotypical” (NT). For at least some people with ASC (not including any co-morbid conditions that might cause anxiety), if you don’t encounter adverse situations or environments, you are not anxious. Anxiety is triggered by things like:
- fear of going into social situations
- having to deal with a problem you feel ill-equipped to deal with
- sensory difficulties
- lack of understanding from others
- social pressures and associated confusion
Doctors are quick to say “you have anxiety, here are some pills”. If you take away the stressful situations, the anxiety is gone. They treat us like NTs with anxiety and fail to understand how it is. They assume that if we visit their office with signs of anxiety (much of which will be from just sitting there in that situation) that we are like that the whole time and this affects a variety of things in the individual’s life.
IMV, although anxiety is inherently part of or co-morbid to the ASC in at least 70% of people with the condition, I do believe (well from personal experience anyway) that when stressors are removed, anxiety dissipates. I therefore believe that pill popping doesn’t resolve the issue and it’s just not good for someone with ASC to stay medicated for their whole life.
I would like doctors and other professionals to understand the challenges people with autism face and what causes their anxiety. It involves undoing all their current ways of thinking of anxiety and understanding autism.
I think some people are genetically predisposed to anxiety, I have read stuff about that before but don’t have access to where I read it right now. Perhaps NTs who have such a genetic predisposition, for instance, suffer from chronic anxiety or have lower anxiety thresholds.
Perhaps in autistics, anxiety may be easily triggered but most or all of those triggers are directly attributable to autistic causes. In those of us with hypersensitive systems, it may be that it takes less to trigger anxiety.
I do think this is an area that needs investigating more. I also find it’s very frustrating when assumptions are made by professionals that simply aren’t true, because they are thinking in an NT mind-set and what superficially may appear similar outcomes in an autistic person and an NT person might be for absolutely different reasons, cause different issues and need different solutions.
“They judge me on the bit they can see and what they are able to see sadly will itself be limited by their own conditioning…” (Lyte)
“3.6 A case in point: mental well-being
Much literature on autism would suggest that autistic people are in some way predisposed to difficulties in psychiatric ill-health, including anxiety, depression, and catatonia (NAS, 2012b).
This view however is a ‘medical model’ view of mental well-being (see section 3.5) that does not account for the ‘problems of living’ people on the autism spectrum have in navigating a social world that was not designed for their needs (to apply a more social model to the situation). The lack of opportunities ‘autistic people’ have in society, coupled with the social stigma of being seen as having a pathologically deviant cognition, is added to further by the trauma of ‘passing as normal’ (Lawson, 2008).”
and there is another relevant quote from the same link:
“…right from the start, from the time someone came up with the word ‘autism’, the condition has been judged from the outside, by its appearances, and not from the inside according to how it is experienced.” (Williams, 1996: 14).