The difference between fear and anxiety is that fear is felt in light of a true threat, but anxiety is worry about what might happen. We all experience some level of anxiety in this fast paced world but for some people, the anxiety levels are over the top.
Ben is one of those people who struggles with excessive anxiety. It shows up in the darndest ways and times. For example, he can present to a group of 500 people and not feel one ounce of anxiety, but rather is pumped up and in his element. Then there are the days that he perseverates (gets stuck on) the simplest thought and he can't let it go until he is able to unload it on someone, usually mom.
One study found that up to 40% of those with autism have clinically elevated levels of anxiety which can lead to depression, aggression and self-injury. It is important to identify and treat anxiety as it can have a great impact on the person's ability to cope in their day to day lives.
Ben's specific worries have evolved through the years. Initially, he had a lot of anxiety around germs and getting sick which took much reassurance to keep him moving in the world. Thankfully, that resolved before the pandemic or he may have not been able to leave the house.
He now struggles more with "Am I in trouble?" or "Are you mad at me?" always "taking the temperature" of the social situation to be sure that he is on track. I can't imagine what it is like to live in his brain. I have my own levels of anxiety but feel that his are amplified by not always understanding the context or social situation.
One skill that we continue to work on is having Ben resolve his own feelings of anxiety and not be dependent on someone else to relieve him of the feeling. We have not conquered this one yet but try to give him phrases that he can repeat in his own mind for reassurance. They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. For some this time takes a bit longer, as so we press on.
Love you more,