Autistic people are often anxious. If you have ever been around an autistic person when they are overloaded, you will know that the overload brings anxiety with it as the autistic person cannot cope with something going on in their environment that they are expected to process. If you are the parent or caregiver of an autistic child, then you may have wondered if your child’s mood and anxiety levels are linked with their Autism Spectrum Disorder. The short answer to this question is yes. However, in this article, we will discuss the longer answer of why your child’s anxiety levels and Autism Spectrum Disorder are linked.
Anxiety and Overwhelm
One of the features of autism is a difficulty in processing information. Unfortunately, the world today tends to be full of information overload, and things which might not bother a non autistic person will most assuredly cause problems for a person with autism. For example, most people are not bothered by large crowds. However, a sufficient crowd can leave a person with an autism spectrum disorder overwhelmed and anxious. This excessive stress becomes extremely difficult for autistic people to cope with at times. When too many stimuli are thrown at a person with autism at once, especially if the stimuli are new, they may experience what is known as sensory overload. They may go nonverbal, feel overwhelmed, cry and try to get away from the stimuli that are causing the problem. With this sensory overload comes anxiety as they no longer feel as if they are in control of their environment and prolonged stress can actually diminish their ability to cope until the stressors resolve themselves.
Meeting social expectations can also lead to anxiety or depression for the the person with autism especially if they are a teenager when mood swings are common in most people. They may feel increased pressure to fit in if they attend a public school or are taught in classes with their non autistic peers. They may try to force themselves to make eye contact which studies have shown can cause a fight or flight response in the autistic brain. They may also hide any special interests that they have, especially if those interests are not ones that are considered age-appropriate for their stage of life. Further, they then may push themselves beyond the point of overwhelm to try to deal with the stress of fitting in in a non autistic world.
As if all of that is not enough, these individuals may have methods of self-expression that are not universally understood. For example, an autistic person may bounce or flap their hands when excited. Society takes this as a sign of developmental disorder or deviance and especially if the person with the ASD is a teenager, their peers may shun and ostracize them, leaving them feeling isolated, depressed and anxious.
Recognizing Emotions In Others
Another necessary component of fitting in successfully in society is the person’s ability to read the facial expressions of others for subtle social cues. People with autism have a lot of problems in this area due to the lack of development in an area of the brain used for processing facial expressions. . They can usually understand the stronger emotions showing on a person’s face, but more subtle emotions are more difficult for them to process. Due to misunderstanding the proper social cues, the person with autism may react inappropriately to the situation, though most people learn to figure out the context in other ways. Misinterpreting the situation can lead to a fear of social interaction or anxiety that they are somehow socializing improperly. The increased anxiety and depression can make them much more reluctant to socialize which then leads into a vicious cycle of wanting to reach out, not knowing how and having more and more anxiety and depression piling on.
There are a large number of ways that an Autistic Spectrum Disorder and a person’s mood and anxiety levels can connect. People with autism may have problems fitting in and expressing themselves in ways society deems acceptable. They may also find new situations, crowds and changes to their environment to be overloading and a large cause of anxiety. However, despite these connections, the situation is not hopeless. People with autism can learn valuable coping skills which they can use to fend off the anxiety and depression they may face as well as curbing the problems which caused the anxiety and depression in the first place. With some support and the help of coping mechanisms and possibly therapy, a person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can lead a happy and fulfilling life.
There are many stereotypes surrounding autism. One of the most insidious is that autistic people do not feel emotions. Many people see the autistic person as overly logical and even slightly robotic, and like the Dustin Hoffman character in the movie Rain Man, these people view them as an impenetrable collection of tics. As any parent with an autistic child will tell you, this stereotype is a fallacy.
Children on the autistic spectrum do feel emotions. They feel just as happy, sad, anxious, excited and elated as anyone else. In fact, there is not any external difference between an autistic person’s brain and a non autistic’s brain. However, there are certain emotions that they may have more difficulty with, such as shame, pride, and emotions that are more social in nature. One of the reasons for these difficulties with more subtle emotions is found in an area of the brain used for facial processing. In a non autistic brain, this area is very well developed and entrenched early in life. Studies have shown that in most autistic children this brain region does not seem as well developed. This lack of development in the brains of autistic children results in a seeming lack of motivation to socialize in some people and a difficulty in reading emotions. In addition, the amygdala, a brain area concerned with the processing of emotions is also not as well developed or modulated in an autistic brain. This means that autistic people, as opposed to lacking emotions may instead have difficulty thinking through and processing their own. This difficulty in processing emotions can lead to the autistic child becoming overwhelmed faster and more severely than a non autistic child would, which can cause them to shut down, go nonverbal and have other emotion regulation difficulties at times of stress.
The difficulties autistic individuals can have processing their own emotions and reading the emotions of others mean that there are a number of challenges an autistic child must work around. For example, autistic children will overload under stress faster than a nonautistic child will, and they may not be able to communicate what is happening. As a friend or family member of an autistic child, watch for signs that they are becoming overwhelmed. They may cry, cover their faces, go non-verbal or try to back away from the situation. If at all possible, give the child time to process any new information or stimuli that may crop up.
Some autistic children also have difficulties understanding social and emotional cues. They may have trouble accurately reading facial expressions for more subtle emotions and may mistake a scowl of concentration for anger for example. They also may have difficulty telling when you are really angry versus when you are pretending anger as a joke. Be careful to make sure that the autistic child understands what you are trying to communicate.
Understand Their Emotions
Be sure that you understand their emotions. Ask the child to tell you how they feel if that is appropriate for the child and their situation.. Help them learn feeling words and facial expressions. Even nonverbal children can learn to draw pictures or write words to tell you how they are feeling. Be patient. It may take longer for an autistic child to pick up a concept than a non autistic child and getting frustrated at them for not getting it right away will only make things worse.
Autistic children are generally not like the Rain Man stereotype and the fact this myth has remained so prevalent is unfortunate. Autistic children are suffering from people’s belief that they do not have emotions and their unwillingness to engage with them. Autistic children have the same emotions as anyone else. However, emotions such as shame, pride, and embarrassment are harder for them to understand or read in the faces of other people. On top of this, autistic children have a greater difficulty processing their own emotions. This means that it may take them longer to tell you how they are feeling than it would for a non autistic child. Patience is necessary. If it is at all possible, give them time to process emotions. If you are impatient, you run the risk of overloading the child. Overload may lead to meltdowns or the child going nonverbal. This is not a pleasant experience and it will make the child far less likely to want to tell you anything about how they are feeling in the future. If you are patient and make sure to explain clearly what you are asking and what you want to know, as well as helping the autistic child to understand more subtle emotions, you can go a long way in helping them to navigate a non autistic world much more effectively.
When you have a loved one who is diagnosed with breast cancer, it is often hard to know how to help. You may feel lost, hurt, angry or fearful while feeling you have to keep it together for them because they are going through so much. Knowing what to say can also be hard, as things you mean as comfort can come off as anything but. So how do you proceed in this possibly terrifying new world you have found yourself in? How do you comfort and support your loved one? Keep reading, as we discuss some ways in which this can be accomplished.
Check Your Own Feelings
If you are not sure how you feel about cancer, it is likely that you will say something thoughtless when faced with it. Cancer is a terrifying prospect, and one we as a society are not taught how to properly deal with. Before you try to be there for the other person, then, stop and take a moment to think. Think about your past experiences with others who were diagnosed. Are you afraid? Angry? Unsure? Anxious? Recognize your emotions and keep them in mind as well as what the person with breast cancer may be feeling.
Above all, it is necessary to listen to what the person is telling you. Sometimes the only support a person needs is someone to vent to or rant with, someone they know has their back and can be a person to lean on until they can face the world again on bad days or someone who will let them celebrate the victories when things are going well. Be sure to show you are listening. Ask questions if you have them, and paraphrase what the person is saying to make sure that you understand. This is not the time for advice.
Offer to Be There
Cancer diagnoses are isolating. Offer to go with your friend or loved one to their doctor’s appointments. Appointments can be very overwhelming both physically and emotionally with a lot of information being flung at the breast cancer patient all at once. Take notes for them, to prevent information from getting lost.
See what else you can do- in practical terms. If your loved one has children, perhaps you could cook a meal for the family occasionally, help the children with their homework or do something else concrete to support them.
When In Doubt, Ask
No two people are alike, nor are any two breast cancer cases. If you know or have known two cancer patients, do not assume that your friend or loved one with breast cancer has the same needs or wants as the other person with cancer you knew. This should go without saying but when people are trying to be supportive, sometimes they forget to ask what sorts of support the cancer patient actually needs. Breast cancer makes people feel as if their life is spinning out of control, especially at first. Give that person back as much control as possible by listening to their wants and needs and doing as they ask.
Breast cancer diagnoses are difficult, both for the person diagnosed and their friends and family. Friends and family may be left feeling unsure, shut out and with no idea what exactly they can do to help. This article is not a definitive guide. However, it will give you a starting point, and ideas for supporting the breast cancer patient in your life.
Sensory processing disorder (SPD), previously called sensory integration dysfunction, is a condition in which a person’s brain has trouble taking in and responding to information gathered through the senses.
Individuals with SPD may be overly sensitive to one or several of the senses, such as sound or touch. Others may be under-responsive to one or more senses. Additional symptoms of include poor coordination, difficulty relating socially, and difficulty engaging in play.
SPD is often seen in developmental disorders such as autism. People with SPD are generally as intelligent as their peers, if not more so. But their brains work differently, so they need extra support to adapt.
Treatment for SPD typically involves occupational therapy and sensory integration therapy to help accustom the person to get used to the things they struggle to process. Left untreated, SPD can lead to anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and more.
It’s not clear what causes SPD, but research to date indicates it may be genetically linked. Though it’s not currently recognized as a stand-alone medical disorder, many believe that should change.
There are many different ways to help raise funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer. From Tough Mudders to marathons to bungee jumps, there’s an activity to suit every taste. And you don’t have to be a fitness adventurer to find an incredible fundraising experience.
For those of us who aren’t fitness adventurers, a fundraiser walk is a great way to take steps to support awareness, treatment, and research. But be warned, lighter physical activity doesn’t mean these events are for the faint of heart. From 5K strolls to 60-mile treks, these fundraising events are likely to be their own reward for your efforts.
Here are some of the most popular walks for breast cancer:
Race For The Cure
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure may be the best option for newbie walkers looking for a fun way to test their laces. This 5K run/walk series takes place at over 150 locations all over the world, and claims to be the world’s largest and most successful education and fundraising event for breast cancer.
In addition to raising awareness and funds, these events seek to honor breast cancer survivors and remember those who have been lost to it.
Making Strides Breast Cancer
Another option for walkers who want to make an impact while walking shorter distances is the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. This walk series is organized by the American Cancer Society in nearly 300 communities all over the country each year, with each event covering no more than three to five miles.
Funds from these races support not just awareness but also cutting-edge research and around-the-clock support for those affected by breast cancer.
If a morning of walking just isn’t enough, you may find multi-day walk events more fulfilling. You may want to give the AVON39 a try.
This walk covers 39.3 miles over two days with a call to walkers to take a stand and fight breast cancer head-on. These weekend-long events are not for the faint of stride, and promise an inspiring journey in major cities all over the United States.
Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk
Proclaimed to be “the biggest impact you can make” in the fight against breast cancer on its website, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day is more than a fundraiser—it’s a movement.
This walk takes you on a journey of 60 miles as you connect with other walkers. Described in testimonials as a “calling,” this walk is intended to not just offer a little fitness, but an inspirational experience.
A Walk For Every Pace
Whether you’re taking your first lap or are ready to take on the world, there’s a race for you—and every step matters. These are only a few of the most popular options for walkers seeking to support breast cancer. Check out events in your community to learn about more ways to give back.
Only 43 percent of donors who gave to organizations in 2009 donated again to the same donations in 2010, according to a study by Urban Institute. And yet, most of those donors did make financial gifts again in 2010—just not to the same organizations.
For an organization looking to maintain and grow its [donations], retaining existing supporters is critical. It costs an average of five times more to earn a new donor as it does to retain a donor, according to data from NonprofitEasy.
Furthermore, this organization’s research showed that most donors don’t give their biggest donations the first time they give—the biggest planned gifts tend to come from donors who have given to a nonprofit 15 times or more over their lifetime.
All this adds up to major benefits for nonprofit organizations that can retain more of their donors. But how can an organization accomplish this?
Say Thank You
This simple action lets donors know that their contribution has been noticed, and that it is appreciated. In short, it establishes a connection, reinforcing to donors that they matter. And when donors know their contribution matters, they’re more likely to give again.
Reach Out Frequently
You can send out communication to your donors as frequently as monthly without jading your audience. In fact, regular outreach can lead to better, longer-term donor relationships.
Don’t Ask for Money Every Time
Even more important than touching base with donors regularly, make sure that those communications have varied messages. Don’t keep asking for more money with every touchpoint. Invite them to your events, help them learn more about the organization, and show how they have already made a difference.
Be Genuine and Personable
People don’t make connections to things; they make connections to other people. So at least some of your communications to donors should come directly from a person at the organization. Use a genuine, personal voice in these communications to build a relationship.
Use Donor Personas for Better Targeting
More than one kind of person is donating to your organization—who are these donor groups? Use surveys and feedback from your donors to learn more about them. Even just breaking up audience by how new they are to your organization, or how much they give, and targeting your message accordingly, can personalize your message and improve response rates.
Ask for Feedback
Your loyal donors know you better than anyone. And, they offer an important outsider’s perspective that you can’t have as an employee of an organization. If you take the time to ask for and listen to longtime donor’s feedback, you now only strengthen your relationship with those donors, but also may learn new ways to better connect with new ones.
Hold on to Your Organization’s Donors
Your donors are your organization’s best advocates and proven supporters. Retaining more of your existing donors is one of the best ways to maintain and grow your supporter base. Don’t let your valued supporters slip away—use these tips to build one-time donations into lifelong relationships.
Why Wear a Wig?
For many chemotherapy patients, wigs are a lifesaver. Many women who have experienced breast cancer or any other type of cancer which required aggressive chemotherapy, know the trauma of losing a major part of your body – head hair, body hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. For these brave women, a beautiful wig can make a huge difference.
Our hair is one of the main ways that we express their individuality and image and styling hair is normally a significant part of a person’s daily routine. Wigs and hair pieces are a great way to help you to look and feel comfortable, and to hold onto this familiar part of daily life while you undergo your treatment. Choosing to cover your head with a wig can also help boost your confidence when you are out, making you feel less self- conscious about your image, and more able to go about your daily routines.
Choosing to wear a wig can also help to feel as if you are taking control over your situation – you control the style, the color, the texture and the brand. You can even control when you lose your hair if you choose to cut it before your treatment.
Most people who decide to use a wig during their chemotherapy treatment have some time to prepare before they need the wig. Taking the time to make sure that you are well prepared can help make the process less stressful, and make the transition from your own hair to your new hair piece, a little smoother.
The fantastic thing about wigs is that you can choose one, try it on and have it styled to suit you before you even lose any of your hair. This can be a great confidence booster and can help you to feel at ease when you have so many big changes coming up.
Here are some tips to help you get ready for your new wig:
Cut Your Hair
If your hair is not short, then cut it short before you begin your treatments. There are several reasons for this:
- Firstly, it is much less traumatic to lose small clumps of short hair than it is to see your long locks falling out.
- Secondly, if you have some time to adjust to short hair before your treatment, it won’t be too long before your hair grows back and feels ‘normal’, since your hair was short to begin with.
- Lastly, it is much easier to fit a wig over shorter hair.
While you may have had luscious long locks before, wigs can feel hotter than natural hair. For this reason, you might want to consider whether a shorter or thinner wig would be more suitable while you have your treatment. The last thing you want to do is add any further discomfort to yourself while you are undergoing chemotherapy.
It can be hard to know where to start if this is all new territory, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your local cancer center, hospital or hairdresser may be able to point you in the direction of a quality wig shop.
Be sure to also get recommendations for hairdressers who will shape the wig for your face. You may even want to book an appointment to speak with one before the actual cut, to make sure you are comfortable and confident with the professional you have chosen. It’s best to pick out your wig and have it styled before your begin your chemotherapy – that way the hairdresser will be able to see your natural hair colour and style and tailor the wig accordingly.
Choosing Which Type of Wig
Wigs come in two main different varieties: synthetic and real hair. Most chemotherapy patients opt for a synthetic wig but there are advantages and disadvantages to both types.
Synthetic hair is ‘man-made’ – fashioned mostly from acrylic to look and feel like real hair.
- Dries very easily
- Easy to manage
- Maintains its good look around the clock
- Must be washed with special products
- Cannot be used with heat appliances
Real hair is made from good quality human hair which is treated and coloured before being made into different style wigs.
- Can be colored, curled or straightened just like real hair
- Can be washed and styled with regular hair products
- Can look more natural
- More expensive than synthetic wigs
- Need more care
- Can have ‘bad hair days’ just like real hair
One option for those with long hair in good condition is to have your own hair made into a wig before your treatment begins. This takes a few weeks and can be very expensive but it might be worth considering if you have enough hair for it.
Whichever option you choose, keep in mind that most wigs only last between 6 months to a year. For most chemotherapy patients, this timeframe is perfect, but some people do need one for longer than this. Manufacturers generally only recommend a wig for six months if it is being worn everyday as wigs tend to sag and get friction build up over time.
Selecting the Right Color
Wigs come in a broad range of colors and styles and getting the color right can be the most likely cause of headaches when you are trying to pick one out. When choosing your wig, you should always select a color than it one to two shades lighter than your own hair. This is because your skin color tends to appear a little ‘off’ during chemotherapy, and because wig hair is so thick, it can appear darker once it’s on.
If you are feeling adventurous, you may even want to take the opportunity to have a different hair color for a wig so try on a variety of styles, colors and lengths before you settle on one. If you want to make a radical color change then you may like to consider what clothes and makeup you wear, as sometimes these tones need to be changed up to suit the new hair color.
If you want to base your wig color on your natural hair color, be sure to choose a wig that has a mix of tones with highlights and lowlights. This will ensure that it looks natural and does not look too severe. If you normally color your hair, you can even select a wig that has darker roots, appearing as though your hair needs to be retouched. If you have lost your hair already then take a photo along with you to the wig supplier so the salesperson can help you to make the best color match.
Paying For Your Wig
Depending on the type of wig you choose, the cost of your temporary hair replacement can be expensive so you need to think about how you will fund this.
If you have health insurance, be sure to check if your policy covers part, or the entire cost of your wig. Not every company will offer a reimbursement for this, but a large amount do, so this should be your first port of call. If you find that you don’t have any health coverage for a wig, make sure you look at other options such as funding it yourself. If you think you might have trouble covering the cost of the wig yourself, make contact with a local cancer centre to enquire about free wigs or other funding options.
Keep in mind that you will also need to budget for a small amount of extras which are not normally covered by any kind of funding. This includes a wig stand, wig brush and styling products.
Caring For Your Wig
To keep your wig in the best shape possible and ensure it lasts for the duration of your treatment, you will need to care for it properly, just like you would your own hair. Follow these tips to keep your wig in tip top shape:
- Give your wig ‘time off’ by wearing a hat or scarf some days
- Wash gently at night and leave to dry naturally overnight
- Brush your wig only when completely dry – brushing wet will cause the wig to lose its shape
- Enhance the wig with a small amount of product suitable for its type
- Avoid using heat products, particularly on synthetic wigs as they will melt