Suicidal thoughts common in people with autism

Another sfari.org blog http://sfari.org/news-and-opinion/news/2014/suicidal-thoughts-alarmingly-common-in-people-with-autism discusses recent work on suicidality in ASD, especially aspergers. It’s an excellent piece, and I just wanted to add a few points:

1) as professionals we should be asking young people with ASD about thoughts of self harm and suicide whenever possible. Conventional depression scales won’t cut it.

2) this should put to bed once and for all the myth of autistic people as emotionally ‘frozen’. Their emotional life is qualitatively different to typicals, but no less intense.

3) the data suggesting an increase in suicide attempts is unpublished,  so should be treated with caution, but there are good reasons given to think there might be a greater risk. How much can be accounted for by conventional depression is unclear

4) if people with autism can be suicidal but not depressed, how on earth do we treat/ protect them? This I suspect will be a puzzler

5) this is a good example of a problem that would reward particular attention on people with aspergers.  It seems a shame to have dispensed with the term,  doesn’t it?

Can a video game improve mental health? Let’s find out

Our friends at We Are What We Do swim against the tide: while much of the media and society demonises video games and gamers, they see the upside of this universal adolescent pursuit (after all, more that 90% play in some surveys).

They are trying to develop a game that uses biofeedback to teach skills that may improve the young person’s ability to manage their emotions and therefore preserve their mental health. Will it work? We don’t know, but it’s worth finding out!

The project has been shortlisted for the £500,00 Google impact prize . Please head over and vote!!