A Note on Downloads

The content in this entire Coping With Autism page can be downloaded as part of a single document below.

Also, downloadable from this page is 'Matt's Daily Health Guide', my attempt to summarize general health related behaviors that I think everyone should consider. There are many recommendations therein that can be used to guide your care of your child, and yourself.

Coping with Autism - A Lifestyle Based Approach

This is a lifestyle oriented guide to managing autism through adaptive coping responses to the massive amounts of stress that we humans are subjected to in our modern world. It is designed to complement a professional autism treatment protocol, options for which are described on the Treatment of Autism page on this website. I believe that adherence to the recommendations herein in combination with aggressive treatment in a professional setting offers you the best possible outcome for the progression of your child’s condition. Nothing contained herein is likely to be unsafe or detrimental to your child. All the same, to the extent that you decide to follow any of these recommendations, I strongly encourage you to discuss such recommendations with your child’s autism treatment team and/or primary care pediatrician.

Coping is defined as: efforts both action-oriented and intrapsychic to manage (master, tolerate, reduce, minimize) environmental and internal demands and conflicts among them, which tax or exceed a person’s resources. Coping can occur prior to a stressful confrontation, in which case it is called anticipatory coping, as well as in reaction to a present or past confrontation with harm. Coping properly with stress is important for the health and wellbeing of any person in our world. For instance, one study showed that the subset of persons who have the greatest health, contentment and longevity among 50 year olds had a common array of traits apparent in their lives before: no smoking, minimal alcohol use, lots of exercise, normal body weight, absence of depression, a warm, stable marriage, and a mature, resilient coping style (which seems built around extroversion, social connectivity, and low narcissism. Sound familiar? These are all adaptive coping strategies.

These strategies are more important today than at any point in the history of humankind. Man has created a toxic environment for himself, without having any real idea of what he was doing. Humans are faced with a daily increasing number and intensity of stressors, which is leading to enormous societal impacts. This increase in stress is magnified by the fact that both the individual and cultural coping mechanisms that we evolved to use are being discarded under the pressure of modern consumer society and modern media. The dramatic increase in autism in westernized societies is an outgrowth of this toxicity of our modern world. And, the best solution that is available to manage autism is to distance ourselves from the aspects of our culture that are loading stress upon us, and to cope much more adaptively. The techniques discussed below should help attenuate the severity of an autistic individual’s symptoms, and should be useful for any individual who is struggling with being a citizen of a westernized society.

A Note of Caution

I must offer one important note of caution. In western countries, particularly the United States, people seem to need to see results of a positive change in behavior overnight in order to be convinced to continue an action such as eating well or exercise. Without immediate gratification, the agreed upon strategy is thrown to the side in favor of responding to the manipulations of modern mass media. The consequences of this lack of long term thinking are apparent in our society.

The advice I am offering will simply not work overnight. It may be months before you see significant changes in your child, or in yourself. It takes time and consistency to adjust biology and the homeostatic mechanisms that underlie biology that took years to get so far out of whack. Just like it may take several months for a workout routine to manifest reductions in weight, a change of lifestyle will take time to show up in autistic behaviors.


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