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.
First published: 27 April 2020
Open access article available here: https://amrcopenresearch.org/articles/2-19/v1
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
Eilidh Cage, along with collaborator Zoe Troxell-Whitman, has just published a new paper looking at the relationships between camouflaging, autistic identity and disclosure. In the study, published as a brief report in Autism in Adulthood, they found that higher autistic identity linked to more disclosure of being autistic, which in turn linked to fewer camouflaging behaviors. This study suggests that strong autistic identity and being openly autistic could reduce camouflaging, which we know has negative effects on mental health. However, to enable disclosure, these findings demonstrate the need for safe spaces where autistic people can explore their identity and be openly autistic, without fear of discrimination.
You should be able to access the paper through the University of Stirling website and clicking ‘request a copy’ or by emailing Eilidh Cage (firstname.lastname@example.org).