We’re working with autistic adults to better understand and reduce their symptoms of anxiety.

Our pioneering centre at Newcastle University is leading the world in adulthood research. 

By understanding each autistic person and their life experience they are

  • improving the way autistic adults are diagnosed and supported
  • developing personalised therapies that work for each autistic person.
  • finding ways to improve mental and physical health in autistic people.
  • improving autistic people’s quality of life through doing the research that matters to them

The research process

Better treatments for anxiety are a top research priority for autistic adults.

Jeremy Parr and his team are carrying out a national survey of autism and anxiety with autistic people and health professionals. 

They are adapting anxiety treatments available on the NHS and developing personalised treatment plans for each individual to address their own anxiety needs. They are testing these plans with autistic adults to see whether they work better than existing therapies.

Explaining the need for this project

Autistic people often have symptoms of more than one type of anxiety. This means that available treatments are less effective. 

The recommended treatment for anxiety on the NHS is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) but some autistic people find CBT challenging. 

When a person has CBT they must be able to interact with their therapist, think flexibly and talk about their emotions. These are all things which autistic people may struggle with. National guidelines recommend that anxiety therapies available on the NHS must be adapted for use with autistic people.

The research process

Jeremy Parr and his team are carrying out a national survey of autism and anxiety with autistic people and health professionals. 

The team are recruiting autistic adults and placing them in two different treatment groups by chance. This is called a randomised controlled trial or RCT.

  • Group 1 will receive the standard treatment
  • Group 2 will receive the personalised anxiety treatment

They will measure the impact of each person’s anxiety on their daily lives before and after their treatment. By comparing the two groups, the team will be able to say which treatment is more useful.  

How this project is making a difference

Better treatments for anxiety are a top research priority for autistic adults.

This trial will find out whether personalised treatment plans work better than existing therapies.