Over the past decade, mental health has perhaps been one of the most discussed matters on different platforms. In work areas, schools, religious and corporate institutions, and even government institutions have all accepted a significant challenge in maintaining the general population’s mental health. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or shortly known as autism, is a complex brain disorder that affects individuals throughout their lifetime. According to research by Cantor & others, the disorder affects the socialization and expression of an individual from research; more than 80% of the studied subjects reported difficulty in expression in social settings that were preceded by anxiety and, at times, even panic attacks (Cantor et al. 2020).
There is relatively more little research concerning the risk factors associated with autism with regards to mental health. However, from the available research, it has been concluded that seventy percent of autistic individuals have been diagnosed with at least anxiety, depression, ADHD, or OCD. Research from McMorris and others reveals that there is no single cause of autism because of the multivariate nature and the unpredictive nature of the symptoms and effects of ASD.
The ability to express oneself is the first factor. ASD is primarily characterized by the inability to express. McMorris reveals in their research that in the early stages of child development, when the child has not been well understood, or a viable social support structure is constructed. This attributes to more than 90% of anxiety cases and other mental health problems in transitioning these individuals from childhood to adulthood (McMorris et al., 2019). There are several; stress factors for the development of mental health disorders, factors like finances, broken relationships, bereavement, amongst others. McMorris research reveals that these factors are catalyzed by ASD. When one delves into research of this comes to be, the fear of expression because of forecasted circumstances by the individual leads to the development of anxiety. While this is common even in non-autistic children and adults, it is more prevalent among individuals with autism (Martin et al., 2019).
Stigmatization is also another factor. Like any other patients with different disorders, autistic individuals suffer from communal stigmatization, especially in areas with insufficient knowledge of ASD. This leads to anxiety disorders, self-esteem and self-doubt issues, ADHD that can be well explained by the executive dysfunction theory as evidenced by research from Lynch and others (2017) revealing that ASD is a barrier to adaptive functioning of the frontal lobe of the brain, when not treated, ADHD can lead to the development of bipolar disorder (BPD), and other behavioral disorders.
The development of other conditions such as PTSD may result from childhood incidents that happened as a result of autism. As evidenced by McMorris autism is a catalyst, it improves the odds of traumatic childhood incidences. Like all other mental health conditions, it leads to the development of subsequent conditions that may affect the self-image, daily activities, and even the individual’s ability to perform this is according to research by King and others (2020).
Despite all these risk factors, relative measures can be taken both to prevent and heal the damage that can be sustained from mental health disorders. These risk factors can be approached from a societal perspective, a government perspective, a biological perspective together with other approaches (Cameron et al 2021).
The first of these steps is providing a reliable support system for the individual. An emotional support system cushions the individual from potential mental scars incurred through incidents resulting from autism. There should also be the creation of special training both for teachers and parents on how to communicate and relate with individuals with ASD (King et al., 2020). This will mitigate and prevent misunderstanding that later leads to mental health disorders. Proposals by Kanne & Bishop from an editorial perspective have emphasized on the importance of understanding autism and mental health first before taking appropriate action (Kanne & Bishop 2021), especially in early childhood training teachers and parents will help these individuals in that there will be cohesion and understanding between the child and the parent.
Regular therapy and treatment for already affected individuals and those who have already been affected will help steer them towards recovery. It is also critical to offer therapy to the families of the people in most contact with these individuals so that they can know and understand how to cope in case of autistic episodes (Kanne & Bishop 2021). According to a qualitative research study by Cameron and others (2021) families that have undergone therapy detailing how to deal with an autistic member have reported more than 8.5 out of research scale of 15 in terms of efficiency of care and understanding the patient.
Cameron, M. J., Moore, T., Bogran, C., & Leidt, A. (2021). Telehealth for Family Guidance:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Parent-Focused Preference Assessment, and Activity-Based Instruction for the Support of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Their Families. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 14(4), 1128-1134.
Cantor, J., McBain, R. K., Kofner, A., Stein, B. D., & Yu, H. (2020). Fewer Than Half Of US
Mental Health Treatment Facilities Provide Services For Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results from a survey of US mental health treatment facilities on the availability of behavioral health care services for children with autism spectrum
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King, C., Merrick, H., & Le Couteur, A. (2020). How should we support young people with
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J. (2017). Executive dysfunction in autism spectrum disorder is associated with a failure to modulate frontoparietal-insular hub architecture. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 2(6), 537-545.
Martin, C. A., Papadopoulos, N., Chellew, T., Rinehart, N. J., & Sciberras, E. (2019).
Associations between parenting stress, parent mental health and child sleep problems for children with ADHD and ASD: Systematic review. Research in developmental disabilities, 93, 103463.
McMorris, C. A., Baraskewich, J., Ames, M. A., Shaikh, K. T., Ncube, B. L., & Bebko, J. M.
(2019). Mental health issues in post-secondary students with autism spectrum disorder: Experiences in accessing services. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 17(3), 585-595.