Mental health issues

Many people on the autism spectrum experience mental health difficulties, such as anxiety and depression with high rates of both reported among people with autism. A recent study by Autism Spectrum Australia of young adults on the autism spectrum found that 71% of these young people reported having a mental health condition. It can be difficult to know if some students on the autism spectrum are experiencing mental health difficulties because of their communication difficulties, but it should always be considered, particularly when behaviours change or become more difficult.

How are mental health difficulties a barrier to accessing the curriculum?

Mental health difficulties, such as anxiety and depression can be distressing and debilitating conditions and can impact significantly on the performance of students at school.

Some of the ways mental health conditions present a barrier to learning include:

  • anxiety impacts on the ability to concentrate and to remember material, impacting on learning
  • students may experience difficulties regulating their emotions, leading to withdrawal and social isolation at school
  • causing non-attendance at school
  • anxiety about change and transition may cause further withdrawal from activities and ability to participate in learning and social activities

For more information, see the Mental Health and Wellbeing Fact Sheet