Twenty years ago when I was trying to understand my son’s autism diagnosis one of the first places I turned was to the books written by Tony Attwood. He had a clear, concise and useable approach to DSM defunct term “Aspergers syndrome.” This latest book, Exploring Depression and beating the Blues adds to that library of knowledge and support. The authors formulate a new avenue of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, geared towards those on the spectrum.
One aspect of autism is the reality of depression. Attwood explains it is not the inherent nature of autism to be depressed, but it is the challenges that autistic people face that leads to the depression. Hence, to help yourself and those you love, it is not simply about understanding autism, but understanding how autism, affects your day-to-day that will help any autistic figure out how to “beat the blues.”
Persons with autism*, have unique challenges. It is because of these challenges and the intense emotions they engender that depression may set in. Interestingly one of the issues listed by the authors that could cause depression is being sensitive to others. It is a longstanding myth that autistics do not care about other people and cannot identify other’s hurt. In fact, one of the most challenging issues we personally have faced is how to help our sons navigate the world of cruelty, whether it is person to person, or human to the world. In truth, the saddest part of the recent election for MrGS2, is not how the President-elect talked about those with autism, but the hate engendered towards other groups be concerning gender identity, race, ethnicity, or religion. He is frightened for everyone else with no thought of himself. (See Here)
Now in understanding why an autistic person may be depressed, the authors outline a program of identifying symptoms and how to evaluate what is going on. There are self awareness exercises to help the individual understand how they are acting and how they are not living up to their happiness potential. This is termed the “Energy Accounting.”