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Revising our understanding of emotional distress for autistic adults; call for research

Petty, Stephanie ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1453-3313, Trickett, Amelie, Thompson, Kyra, Garbutt, Rebeka and Saunders, Mollie (2022) Revising our understanding of emotional distress for autistic adults; call for research. Current Psychology.

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Autistic adults are more likely to receive diagnoses of anxiety and depression than their non-autistic peers. This means that clinicians need an improved understanding of what emotional distress is for autistic people, the causes and appropriate therapeutic interventions. A small sample study adopted a survey and interview design with four autistic adults with co-occurring mood disorders. Emotions were unexpected and overwhelming, were caused by fearing the unknown, loss of control, sensory demands, injustices and accumulation of everyday stressors. Autistic patients coped with emotions by withdrawing and with practical help to remove what was causing the distress and provide reassurance, though this was to be offered only when requested and only from specified people in order to reduce further unwanted demand. These preliminary findings suggest the direction of change in our understanding of mood disorders in autistic populations. We discuss this challenging area of study with considerations for practitioners and researchers.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-022-03254-0
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/6444

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