Supporting Autistic Students in the Classroom with Anxiety and other Mental Health Challenges: Your Questions Answered


1 in 44 school-age children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autistic students are much more likely than non-autistic students to experience mental health challenges, including difficulty with emotion regulation, anxiety, and depression that may be exacerbated by experiences of bullying, victimization, and segregation within schools. There is an urgent need to support the mental and behavioral health of autistic students. In the past year, the SEMHTTC team has disseminated resources related to identifying and supporting mental health challenges in this population, with a specific emphasis on anxiety here. The purpose of this two-part series is to build on the didactic content covered in our earlier learning sessions (learning session 1, learning session 2) and provide more opportunity to cover a case example, engage in discussion, and have ample time for Q&A. In each sessions, we will provide a very brief overview of the prior content we covered (15 minutes), have an in-depth discussion of one case example (15 minutes), and ample time for questions and open conversation related to the mental health of autistic students (25 minutes). 


Session 1 

Wednesday, September 28

12:00 - 1:00pm



The first learning session will be devoted to identifying anxiety and other mental health challenges in autistic students. By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify anxiety and signs of other mental health challenges in autistic students.
  2. Describe risk factors for autistic students to develop anxiety and other mental health challenges.
  3. Identify anxiety signs within one case example of an autistic student.


Session 2 

Wednesday, October 5

12:00 - 1:00pm



The second learning session will center on evidence-based approaches and practices that can be used within schools to support the anxiety in autistic students. By the end of the office hour, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe evidence-based approaches to support anxiety in autistic students.
  2. Understand different ways that mental health programming can be delivered to autistic students in schools.
  3. Identify strategies that may support an autistic student as described within a case example.


About the Speaker: 

Katherine Pickard, PhD, received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Michigan State University and completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is currently an assistant professor and licensed psychologist at Emory University and the Marcus Autism Center. Her primary focus is the translation of evidence-based practices into community systems that are naturally positioned to serve children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental delays. Dr. Pickard’s research is grounded in community-engaged research models and guided by dissemination and implementation science. Dr. Pickard leads and collaborates on research examining mechanisms that foster the adoption, implementation and sustainment of evidence-based practices within a variety of community systems, including early intervention and public school systems. She is particularly interested in the role of families and community stakeholders in shaping interventions as they are implemented within the community, and in other factors that impact the reach and sustainability of translation efforts. Clinically, Dr. Pickard has a strong background in supporting individuals with ASD and other developmental disabilities across the lifespan. She holds specific expertise in parent-mediated interventions for young children with autism and their families, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for youth with ASD and co-occurring anxiety.

In our products, we choose to use identity first language (i.e., autistic students) in response to the preference of many autistic individuals and in an effort to avoid ableist ideologies. We recognize that this is not the language preference of every individual. For more information on the rationale for our language choice, please see the Bottema-Beutel et al., 2021.


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