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New open-access position paper on Social Prescribing for Autistic people

Social Prescribing (SP) is the referral of patients to non-clinical services for practical, physical or psychosocial support. Recent guidelines from the National Health Service England mean that SP will become commonplace for people with complex healthcare needs. Autistic adults make up 1% of the population and commonly have co-existing physical and mental health conditions, therefore they are likely to be referred to SP services. As yet, no studies have examined the efficacy of SP for autistic adults. In this letter, we review the existing literature examining the efficacy of SP in the general population. We further examine the factors that should be considered when offering SP to autistic adults in order to optimise outcomes.

Researchers: Rebecca A. Charlton , Catherine J. Crompton , Amanda Roestorf , Christopher Torry , The Autistica Physical Health and Ageing Study Group

First published: 27 April 2020

Open access article available here: https://amrcopenresearch.org/articles/2-19/v1

New open-access research paper on Self-guided Mindfulness to alleviate anxiety in autistic adults

Anxiety in autism is an important target for psychological therapies because it is very common and because it significantly impacts upon quality of life and well-being. Growing evidence suggests that cognitive behaviour therapies and mindfulness-based therapies can help autistic individuals learn to manage feelings of anxiety but access to such therapies remains problematic. In the current pilot study, we examined whether existing online cognitive behaviour therapy and mindfulness-based therapy self-help tools can help reduce anxiety in autistic adults. Specifically, 35 autistic adults were asked to try either an existing online cognitive behaviour therapy (n = 16) or mindfulness-based therapy (n = 19) programme while a further 19 autistic adults served as a waitlist comparison group. A first important finding was that 23 of the 35 (66%) participants who tried the online tools completed them, suggesting that such tools are, in principle, acceptable to many autistic adults. In addition, adults in the cognitive behaviour therapy and mindfulness-based therapy conditions reported significant decreases in anxiety over 3 and to some extent also 6 months that were less apparent in the waitlist group of participants. On broader measures of mental health and well-being, the benefits of the online tools were less apparent. Overall, the results suggest that online self-help cognitive behaviour therapy and mindfulness-based therapy tools should be explored further as a means of providing cost-effective mental health support to at least those autistic individuals who can engage effectively with such online tools.


First published: 08 April 2020

Open access article available here: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/31121

Dr Eilidh Cage, Lecturer in Psychology

Eilidh’s research looks broadly at the experiences of autistic adults and adolescents, and the challenges related to navigating a predominantly non-autistic world. She is particularly interested in autism acceptance (from both self and others), mental health and wellbeing, autistic identity and diagnosis, camouflaging (or masking) and supporting autistic students at university. She is also passionate about improving practices within autism research itself.

Read more about Eilidh’s research and publications here.