PDA by PDAers

Fittingly, Sally Cat’s first ever blog piece is about her first book, PDA by PDAers, which is out now. Here, she describes how the online support and discussion group that fuelled the book came about and flourished, despite her PDA sometimes getting in the way. 

I’ve been thinking about writing a blog for a while.  I’m good with words, have opinions and an understanding of PDA, but my PDA (pathological demand avoidance) has actually scuppered me into a kind of helpless paralysis. Demand Avoidance has told me that blog writing is “too difficult”.  It says, “you’ll get lost and waffle on irrelevantly”; “people will be bored”; “it would take up too much time” and this negative brush with which my subliminal demand avoidance has painted the concept of blog writing has left me feeling terrified of even trying.  However, JKP have invited me to write a blog to coincide with the launch of my book, PDA by PDAers, and (after much avoiding and, in facing it, feeling physically sick) here goes!PDA

PDA to me is a wondrous, many faceted beast.  I equate it to a tiger in the introduction to PDA by PDAers where I say that thinking of PDA as merely comprising Demand Avoidance is akin to thinking of tigers as comprising only stripes.  We PDAers, as I have come to know us, have metaphorical teeth, claws and bodies finely honed for leaping too. We experience extreme, hard-wired anxiety, which we tend to feel compelled to mask (for, I believe, equally hard-wired reasons).  We fight injustice and fearlessly defend victimised people and animals. We have wonderful imaginations and breadth of lateral thinking. We have our own minds and think out our own, well-considered codes of ethics. We are vulnerable though to social pressures and need personal control and quiet space in order to thrive.  There is a myth-conception amongst the few who are aware of PDA that we feel no shame during meltdown, but this is untrue. Melting down is involuntary and we observe ourselves in mute horror then, once our meltdowns are over, tend to hide our shame behind involuntary masks. Continue reading

Weight Expectations: One Man’s Recovery from Anorexia – Extract

anorexiaAhead of its publication next month, here is an exclusive extract from Dave Chawner’s upcoming title Weight Expectations: One Man’s Recovery from Anorexia. This extract has been pulled from the first chapter.

Hi, I’m Dave. Welcome to the book, it’s lovely to meet you. Grab a seat, have a cuppa and make yourself at home. (Nice top, it suits you… No, really, it does.) Are you comfy? You sure? OK, I’ll stop fussing.

You might be wondering who I am (don’t worry, you’re not the only one; my agent does too). I’m a stand-up comic. This is the book of my show Normally Abnormal.  It’s all about how I slipped into anorexia, and how I got out. Basically, it’s an explanation of eating disorders from the inside looking out.

Please don’t leave!!! Don’t worry, this IS NOT some proper drab pity party.  Eating disorders are serious, but that doesn’t mean we have to be. This isn’t ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ (I’m vegetarian, so that’d be wrong on so many levels). My mum always used to say, ‘Life’s all about the journey, not the destination.’ She told me to focus on the journey and forget about the destination (which is how she lost her job as an ambulance driver).

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Why can’t people talk about their mental health?

health

Dave Chawner, author of Weight Expectations, is a mental health campaigner, an award winning stand-up comedian and anorexia survivor. In this blog, he addresses the stigma around mental health and the damage it causes. 

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, so we’ve got to talk about stigma. It’s kind of the rule – you can’t talk about anything to do with mental health without talking about stigma. Personally, I don’t like talking about stigma because the more you talk about something (even by negation) the more you entrench it. I’ll give you an example, if I said to you “don’t think of a blue pig” I know you’d instantly think of Boris Johnson. A lot of people reckon it’s stigma that stops people talking about their mental illness, and maybe it is, however I also think it’s to do with guilt.

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Are you feeling stressed out by exams?

Try this simple worksheet to help you defeat your exam stress gremlin.  Rooted in cognitive behavioural therapy, it will train you to change the way you think and starve him of the stress-related thoughts and feelings on which he feeds.  Ideal for young people sitting major exams, in turn it will enable you to achieve better results.

Click here to download the resource

This extract is taken from Kate Collins-Donnelly’s Starving the Exam Stress Gremlin, and is the latest instalment in her bestselling and award-winning Starve the Gremlin series. Full of fun activities based on cognitive behavioural therapy, the Gremlin series teaches young people to manage common emotional and behavioural difficulties such as anger, depression and anxiety.

A classroom story about a girl named Lauryn who experiences social exclusion #AntiBullyingWeek

social exclusionAge range:

Ages 11 to 16

Description:

A learning resource about a girl named Lauryn who tries to fit in with a group of girls but is rejected when she receives a series of cold texts from them. It tells the story from Lauryn’s perspective and the emotional impact this has on her. The story can be read out loud to a class or individually. Also contained are suggested strategies to manage the emotional effect this has on Lauryn, such as choosing a group that fits your own character better, feeling proud of your individuality and understanding that not everyone is nice.

Click here to download the resource

Lauryn’s story is taken from Michael Panckridge and Catherine Thornton’s Be Bully Free, which is a hands-on guide for young people aged 11+ on how to take control of being bullied.

JKP Author Honored as Book Award Finalist

JKP Author Dr. Lee A. Wilkinson was recently honored as an Award-Winning Finalist in the “Psychology/Mental Health” category of the 13th Annual Best Book Awards for his book, Overcoming Anxiety on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT. Selected from more than 2,000 entries from traditional and independent publishers, 400 winners and finalists were announced in over 100 categories. This is the second award for Dr. Wilkinson whose JKP book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools was selected as the winner in the Educational/Academic category of the Next Generation Indie Book awards.

About Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum

Dr. Lee A. Wilkinson’s award-winning book presents strategies derived from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), adapted specifically for adults on the higher end of the autism spectrum, to help them overcome anxiety and depression, and improve their psychological well-being. The author takes the best of CBT therapeutic techniques to facilitate greater self-understanding, self-advocacy, and better decision-making in life-span activities such as employment and interpersonal relationships.

Accessible and easy-to-read, this self-help guide provides evidence-based tools that can be used to learn new self-fulfilling ways of thinking, feeling, and doing. It includes questionnaires, forms, worksheets, and exercises to help the reader:

  • Evaluate his or her autistic traits and discover their cognitive style.
  • Identify and modify the thoughts and beliefs that underlie and maintain the cycles of anxiety, depression, and anger.
  • Apply therapeutic techniques such as mindfulness, positive self-talk, guided imagery, and problem-solving.
  • Accept the past and achieve unconditional self-acceptance.
  • Deal effectively with perfectionism and low frustration tolerance.
  • Avoid procrastination and learn to maintain the positive changes to their progress.

Used alone or in combination with therapy, Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT is an essential self-help book for adults on the higher end of the spectrum looking for ways to understand and cope with their emotional challenges and improve their psychological well-being. It is also appropriate for adults who recognize their autistic traits, even though they may not have experienced major social difficulties and clinical impairment, but who want to improve their emotional well-being. Family members, friends, and others touched by autism will find this self-help book a valuable resource as well.

About the Author

Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, is a scientist, researcher, and practitioner. He is a licensed and nationally certified school psychologist, chartered educational psychologist, registered psychologist, and certified cognitive-behavioral therapist. He is also a university educator and trainer, and has published widely on the topic of autism spectrum disorders both in the US and internationally. Dr. Wilkinson is author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, also published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and editor of a best-selling text in the American Psychological Association (APA) School Psychology Book Series, Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Adolescents: Evidence-Based Assessment and Intervention in Schools. His latest book from JKP is A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Schools (2nd Edition).

Peace Inside: How meditation can transform your mental health

peaceSam Settle, editor of Peace Inside, examines how the time tested practice of meditation – sitting in silence and paying attention to the breath – is helping people maintain a healthy mind behind bars.

“If you don’t go into prison with a mental health problem, then you’re very likely to pick one up while you’re there. And if you do have a pre-existing condition – and many people who come into prison do – it’s probably going to get worse while you’re inside.” So said the head of the mental health team at an Oxfordshire prison, speaking recently to yoga teachers at a training run by our charity, the Prison Phoenix Trust (PPT). Part of the PPT’s work is setting up yoga and meditation classes in prisons, training and supporting qualified teachers for this unusual work. There are currently 144 classes in 79 UK and Irish prisons.

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How Sensitive Am I? Sensitivity Testing Can Tell You

SensitivityThis Sensitivity Test has been provided by Ilse Sand, author of Highly Sensitive People and The Emotional Compass. Test yourself to see how sensitive you are.

This is a shortened version of the test; the complete test can be found in the book “Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World: How to Create a Happy Life“.

The Sensitivity Test

Grade each statement from 0 to 4 as below. There are five different ways to answer each statement.

 

0 = This does not describe me at all
1 = This describes me a little
2 = This describes me to some extent
3 = This describes me fairly well
4 = This describes me perfectly

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The International Aspergirl® Society… author Rudy Simone talks about her brilliant new project for women & girls on the autism spectrum


Simone_A-to-Z-of-ASDs_978-1-78592-113-1_colourjpg-print
Although best known for her book Aspergirls Rudy Simone is a person of many parts (actor, musician, public speaker, AS consultant). With her latest book The A to Z of ASD’s: Aunt Aspies Guide to Life about to be published Rudy spoke with us about The International Aspergirl® Society, and her plans to improve the lives of girls and women on the autism spectrum around the world.
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Self-Help for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

In another blog post for Mental Health Awareness Week award winning JKP author Dr. Lee A. Wilkinson discusses some of the challenges facing adults on the autism spectrum—

The dramatic increase in the prevalence of autism spectrum conditions among children and adolescents and the correspondingly large number of youth transitioning into adulthood has created an urgent need to address the problems faced by many adults on the autism spectrum. Nearly a half million youth with autism will enter adulthood over the next decade and most will continue to require some level of support. In addition, there is a large and diverse group of adults whose autistic traits were not identified in childhood and have not received the appropriate interventions and services. Although autism symptoms may improve with age, co-occurring mental health issues may worsen in adolescence or adulthood. As a result, there are a significant number of adults on the spectrum who are now seeking help to deal with feelings of social isolation, interpersonal difficulties, anxiety, depressed mood, and coping problems. Unfortunately, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and even the diagnosis of an autism spectrum condition itself often go unrecognized. Although the rate of co-occurring mental health issues for adults on the spectrum is high, accessing services to address these symptoms is frequently difficult and the extent of the problem will only increase as more and more youth transition to adulthood.

Evidence is beginning to emerge for interventions addressing the mental health needs of this growing and underserved group of adults, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has direct applicability to adults on the autism spectrum who often have difficulty understanding, managing, and expressing emotions. It has been shown to be effective in changing the way a person thinks about and responds to feelings such as anxiety and depression. With CBT, the individual learns skills to modify thoughts and beliefs through a variety of strategies which improve interaction with others in helpful and appropriate ways, thereby promoting self-regulation and mental health. It is a goal oriented approach and primarily emphasizes here-and-now problems, regardless of one’s past history, traits, or diagnosis. CBT also provides a more structured approach than other types of psychotherapy, relies less on insight and judgment than other models, and focuses on practical problem-solving. Moreover, because individuals learn self-help in treatment they are often able to maintain their improvement after therapy has been completed. Evidence-based CBT holds considerable promise as an effective intervention for improving the quality of life and psychological well-being of adults on the autism spectrum.

Despite the availability of effective psychological treatments for anxiety and depression, a substantial number of adults on the autism spectrum do not seek professional help. Common obstacles to mental health care access include limited availability and affordability of services, confidentiality issues, lack of insurance coverage, frequent delays and long waiting periods, and social stigma. Likewise, many service providers do not have the experience or expertise to work with individuals on the autism spectrum, particularly those with co-occurring mental health issues. Self-help interventions represent an increasingly popular alternative to therapist-delivered psychological therapies, offering the potential of increased access to cost-effective treatment for a range of different mental health issues. They provide an opportunity for the individual to gain some useful insights and begin to work through their problems with limited guidance from a therapist or mental health professional. Research has clearly shown that self-help strategies are effective, practical, and acceptable for many individuals in reducing mental health problems such as mild to moderate anxiety and depression, often alone or with other forms of treatment. Self-help interventions have the potential to play an important role in providing effective treatment to the large proportion of adults on the spectrum who are experiencing mental health issues.

While there is no shortage of books describing the controversies and challenges related to the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum conditions, there is a need for a practical resource for adults on the spectrum that promotes self-understanding and directly teaches effective ways of coping with their emotional challenges. Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT presents strategies derived from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), adapted specifically for adults with autism, to help them overcome anxiety and depression, and improve their psychological well-being. The author takes the best of CBT therapeutic techniques to facilitate greater self-understanding, self-advocacy, and better decision-making in life-span activities such as employment and interpersonal relationships. This self-help guide provides evidence-based tools that can be used to learn new ways of thinking, feeling, and doing. It includes questionnaires, forms/worksheets, and exercises to help the reader:

  • Evaluate his or her autistic traits and discover their cognitive style.
  • Identify and modify the thoughts and beliefs that underlie and maintain the cycles of anxiety, depression, and anger.
  • Apply therapeutic techniques such as mindfulness, positive self-talk, guided imagery, and problem solving.
  • Accept the past and achieve unconditional self-acceptance.
  • Deal effectively with perfectionism and low frustration tolerance.
  • Avoid procrastination and learn to maintain positive changes to their progress

Used alone or in combination with therapy, Overcoming Anxiety and Depression on the Autism Spectrum: A Self-Help Guide Using CBT is an essential self-help book for adults across the spectrum looking for ways to understand and cope with their emotional challenges and improve their psychological well-being.

 

About the Author

Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, NCSP, CPsychol, AFBPsS is a licensed and nationally certified school psychologist, chartered psychologist, registered psychologist, and certified cognitive-behavioral therapist. He has published widely on the topic of autism spectrum disorders both in the US and internationally. Dr. Wilkinson is author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, also published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers and editor of a recent volume in the American Psychological Association (APA) School Psychology Book Series, Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Adolescents: Evidence-Based Assessment and Intervention in Schools.