Let's Talk About Autism & Mental Health Part 1 (Tri-State Webinar)
Audience: Educators, Other District/School Staff, Parents | Topic: Autism, School Health, Special Education | Hosted by: Office of Special Education
Presented by Lindsey A. Nebeker, B.A.
In recent years, our society has become more informed on understanding mental health conditions, identifying the issues that associate with them, and learning how we can provide support to those who need help. However, the intersection of neurodiversity and mental health contains some unique differences. Our world is not as “fluent” in how to identify when people on the autism spectrum are experiencing a mental health crisis; nor are we able to clearly identify how to provide support that is effective while at the same time being “neurodiverse-friendly”. Research has indicated that autistic adults may have a higher risk of suicide than the rest of the population*, making it a crucial conversation topic we need to keep enforcing.
In Part 1, we will address a few red flags to watch for (that especially apply for neurodiverse individuals), and we will address a few possible barriers that can prevent those who are affected with mental health conditions from getting the help they need to improve their quality of life.
- Identify possible barriers (at home, at school, in the community) that can make it especially difficult for people on the autism spectrum with coexisting mental health conditions,
- Identify possible red flags that indicate when a person on the autism spectrum is experiencing a mental health crisis
- Determine effective approaches for those involved in the person’s everyday life (family members, educators, coworkers, etc.) and
- Determine effective approaches for the person to apply to their own self-care.
Factors that make it difficult for to detect “red flags” for depression and suicide risk in individuals with ASD:
- Masking or Camouflaging
- Alexithymia (difficulty identifying or describing emotions and distinguishing the emotions from what the body is actually experiencing)
- Translation of self-injury
- Dismissal of symptoms as “ just part of ASD”
- All of the above
- Which of the five barriers discussed in the video can lead to a low quality of life leaving a person feeling invalidated, not wanted and a burden?
- Crisis Supports and Response
- Recovery and Treatment
- Ignorance & Stigma
- Communication difficulties including the knowledge of when and how to ask for help can be a barrier to getting care in a crisis.
- Most first responders in the country have been trained how to respond to a person with ASD in a crisis.
Lindsey Nebeker is a Development Specialist at the Autism Society of America and remains actively involved in music, photography and as a freelance presenter. She was born in Tokyo, Japan and received her autism diagnosis at age Two. She holds a B.A. in Music Technology from the College of Santa Fe (2004) and she is a Partners in Policy making graduate (2011). As a sibling to an autistic adult with higher support needs, she is strongly focused on the message of presuming competence for all people regardless of their labels. Lindsey has appeared in Glamour, Good Morning America, NPR, and the Emmy-nominated documentary Autism in Love.
Contact InformationJanet Zimmermann
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