Website to help teenagers on the autism spectrum combat anxiety and depression
We are delighted to announce our new website, autismteenwellbeing.com.au, which was launched 2 April 2020 to mark World Autism Day.
One in two young Australians on the autism spectrum experience anxiety and one in three experience depression, rates up to twice as high as those for non-autistic young Australians.
The Autism Teen Wellbeing website provides resources and strategies to help build protective factors against depression and anxiety for these vulnerable young people by cultivating a sense of belonging and the ability to regulate emotions in the face of stress.
Designed for parents, teachers, schools and communities to support wellbeing in teenagers on the autism spectrum, the website is the culmination of three years of collaborative research, led by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The research and website development were financially supported by Autism CRC and Positive Partnerships.
“Now, more than ever, we need to build the protective factors around our adolescents, particularly those on the spectrum. Supporting parents, caregivers, teachers and school communities to promote a sense of belonging at a time when many of us will be feeling socially isolated, will ultimately lead to more resilient teenagers," says Autism CRC Project Leader and QUT Faculty of Health Professor Ian Shochet.
Recent research indicates that 53% of autistic people aged 15-25 years old experience anxiety and 29% experience depression, compared to 25% and 17% (respectively) of their non-autistic peers (Study of Australian School Leavers with Autism, 2018).
“Although we know that autistic young people have an increased risk for mental health problems, there is not much research on prevention and early intervention for this group. With funding and support from Autism CRC and Positive Partnerships, our team has harnessed two protective factors – a sense of belonging and the ability to manage emotions in the face of stress – to develop a multi-layered approach for improving the mental health of autistic teenagers,” says Prof Shochet.
This includes giving parents and caregivers ideas for managing their own stress, improving relationships and helping adolescents manage their emotions.
The project team engaged parents to review the website during the development phase, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Comments included:
- "There are fantastic resources here to assist multiple stakeholders and build capability to support young people."
- "I felt very engaged while using it [the website] and it held my attention."
For teachers and principals, there are ideas for promoting a sense of connectedness in the classroom and the wider school or community, as well as strategies for managing their own stress.
"We encourage everyone to share this free resource through their networks," says Prof Shochet.
This Autism CRC/Positive Partnerships project was led by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and involved Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), Curtin University and many schools and school systems across Australia.
Autism CRC was established under, and receives funding from, the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centre Program.
Positive Partnerships is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment through the Helping Children with Autism package.
The resources available on the Autism Teen Wellbeing website were developed by building on the successful Commonwealth-endorsed Resourceful Adolescent Program (RAP).
The website is available at autismteenwellbeing.com.au.
Marketing and Communication Manager, Autism CRC
Phone: 0428 390 705