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Book review: Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum by Lee Wilkinson, PhD

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depressionWe often fear what we can’t control or don’t understand. Fortunately, education is a powerful antidote and the information Dr. Wilkinson presents in his book, Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT, definitely delivers. Not only does it equip the reader with a better understanding of the processes involved with anxiety and depression but it offers therapeutic strategies that will increase a person’s feeling of control as well. What more could one ask for?

This self-help guide is for individuals in early to mid adulthood that may possess autistic traits, whether officially diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder or not. It is an effective tool for individuals challenged by anxiety and depression who want to improve their psychological wellbeing. The book itself is extremely helpful on it’s own but can always be combined with personal therapy sessions to make larger strides at a faster pace.

Dr. Wilkinson starts by slowly encouraging the reader to begin a journey into a better understanding of who they are, how they (their brain) functions and what they can do to manage their feelings. Each chapter takes them one step forward to acquiring new ways of thinking and doing.

The focus of this book is strength based and in no way does it attempt to eliminate, cure or change a person’s autistic traits. Instead it concentrates on empowering the individual with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) skills. CBT addresses cognitive dysfunction by challenging irrational beliefs and thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts, feelings and beliefs for better emotional health. The result being that one can live life with the confidence and knowledge that they can manage these destructive thoughts and feelings whenever they appear.

Other highlights worthy of mention:

– I always like a book that explains how it is set up. The author clarifies what to expect in each chapter beyond the one to five words in the Chapter Title. Dr. Wilkinson wrote the book to build upon itself. The foundation he sets in the earlier chapters help facilitates a better understanding of the information in latter chapters.

– The book also provides many user-friendly, evidence-based tools – the Adult Autism Quotient, Empathy Quotient, and Systemizing Quotient – that will enhance self-awareness and self-acceptance. These are located in the back of the book and many of these forms are also available in downloadable format that can be printed.

– Best of all, the author introduces us to new terminology with the term/acronym ASC, Autism Spectrum Condition, as opposed to ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder. Other experts have previously introduced this particular language in an attempt to emphasize a condition that includes strengths as well as challenges. Describing autism as a condition has a more positive connotation and normalizes it to a set of attributes shared by ALL individuals in the general population.

All in all, this book provides hope – a beacon of light at the end of the tunnel that will gently guide the reader to the other side. It functions as a road map, affirming there is a way out that will lead to better decision making skills and management of thoughts and emotions.

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