Autism and mental health - what parents need to know

Posted by / Tuesday 02 April 2019 / Health Parenting Tips Behaviour Speech and Communication
Young boy talking with team leaders

Autism affects more than one in every 100 people in the UK. It affects everyone differently, so recognising and understanding individual symptoms related to autism isn’t always easy.  

1 in 100 on autism spectrum

If you’re a parent of an autistic child, it’s helpful to be aware of the impact autism can have on mental well-being. Autistic people are more susceptible to certain mental health difficulties, including anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. They can also experience emotional distress linked to social and communication difficulties.


Statistics show that approximately 40% of those on the autistic spectrum have an anxiety disorder as a result of factors including social interaction, communication difficulties and biological differences in the brain. If these feelings persist, it can lead to depression.

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Not all autistic children will be affected in this way. But it’s important to be aware of, and look out for, any potential mood or behavioural changes. For example, if your child appears withdrawn from activities they normally enjoy, distant or low on energy, it may be that they are finding it difficult to communicate their feelings and are struggling to express themselves.


If you think your child could do with some extra support, you might find it helpful to get in touch with a professional counsellor with an expertise in autism. This can help your child express themselves and figure out how best to manage difficult feelings they may be experiencing.

It can also give you a chance to discuss your feelings and concerns. Many parents struggle with taking time for themselves, but as a carer it is important to look after your own well-being too. Always ensure that you seek an appropriately qualified counsellor who has experience in working in this field.

Find more guidance on young people and mental well-being at our Build Sound Minds website, or check out our list of trusted mental health resources.

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