Looking Beyond Autism:
Recognising Mental Health Disorders

This page has been designed to support Webinar 1 Looking Beyond Autism: Recognising Mental Health Disorders in Children and Youth with ASD.

Page Index

Video: Introduction – Deborah Pugh
Video: Background to ASD and Mental Health – Dr. Karen Bopp
Video: Why are Psychiatric Comorbidities Important?– Dr. Anthony Bailey
Video: Role of the Board Certified Behavior Analyst – Dr. Richard Stock
Video: Reflections from the Panel – Dr. Balbinder Gill & Dr. Grace Iarocci
Video: Question Period

Video: Introduction – Deborah Pugh


Video: Background to ASD and Mental Health – Dr. Karen Bopp

Learning Objective: Recognize the prevalence and diversity of children and youth in BC affected by ASD;

In 2015 over 12,000 children in British Columbia received autism funding from the provincial government. ASD is a complex condition with a variety of presentations. The following resources can provide more context:

Reflections from a Pediatrician : Early Diagnosis of Autism – by Dr. Alisa Lipson (This Changed My Practice, Sept 30, 2014)

Prevalence of ASD in British Columbia: See Part 2: Prevalence of Autism from Dr. Karen Bopp’s online video Best Practices in Early Intervention:


Video: Why are Psychiatric Comorbidities Important? – Dr. Anthony Bailey

Learning Objective: Recognize that mental-health disorders affect children and youth with ASD disproportionally and failure to treat/refer can have devastating consequences

Learning Objective: Recognize that some children with undiagnosed ASD can present to professionals with mental health disorders and always exclude this disorder in the assessment process;

Children with ASD have very high rates of co-occurring mental health challenges, including ADHD, anxiety disorders and tic disorders prior to reaching adulthood. Frequently it is these conditions and not autism itself that is the most disabling factor in the life of a child with ASD.

York University’s “Research Snapshot” “Rates and Risk Factors of Psychiatric Disorders in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders” summarizes a study that examines the rates, risks and types of psychiatric disorders found in youth with ASD.

Psychiatric comorbidities in Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism: Diagnostic challenges

Dr Vikram Dua speaks eloquently on: Barriers to Diagnosis and Relevance of Comorbidity. See Part 4 from video: Identifying and Treating Co-occurring Mental Health Challenges in Children with ASD (8 min.)

This article outlines information provided by various research studies on the co-existence of psychiatric disorders with autism, including ADHD, anxiety distorder, OCD and depression: www.actcommunity.ca/resource/2922/

Webinar 2, Looking Beyond Autism: Treating Anxiety, Depression and OCD in Children and Youth with ASD, of the Online Mental Health Project will cover specific disorders in more detail, including anxiety, depression and OCD. Sign up here: ubccpd.ca/courses/autism


Video: Role of the Board Certified Behavior Analyst – Dr. Richard Stock

Learning Objective: Identify key individuals involved in the child’s care and obtain information regarding their behavior.

Children with ASD and their families often employ other professionals to work with their children with ASD. These professionals may employ treatment plans such as Behavioral Plan of Intervention (BPI). Key terms and ideas:

Information about BPIs from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD):

What is a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), and what does a good one look like?

More resources on the role of a behavior analyst are available on the Autism Information Database including a link to information on standards for Board Certified Behavior Analysts .


Video: Reflections from the Panel – Dr. Balbinder Gill & Dr. Grace Iarocci

After a diagnosis, the role of the pediatrician is important as a familiar and constant presence. When conducting CBT with children with autism, it can be useful to use more closed questions such a yes/no or a likert scale.

Video: Question Period

OMHAP Project Looking Beyond Autism

Video and resources from webinar 2: Treating Anxiety, Depression, and OCD

Contact ACT for individualized support or search the AID for more resources.


Other Resources:


About Diagnosis in B.C:

An overview of the Diagnostic Process

Chapter 1: The Diagnostic Process – written for community professionals and parents


Team building/ Resources for Families:

Dr. Karen Bopp describes the different roles that people play on a child’s intervention team in her online talk. This talk has some valuable information for professionals seeking to understand the process:

Part 14: Making the Most of your Intervention Team: Hiring Team Members (21 minutes)

Part 15: Making the Most of your Intervention Team: Teamwork and Quality (10 minutes)


Autism In Canada:

CASDA’s 2014 Needs Assessment for Families, Individuals with ASD & Professionals (PDF)

For a more detailed look at policy and practice in B.C.:

Review of Child and Youth Mental Health Services in British Columbia

(Oct 2008) Auditor General of B.C.: the Child and Youth Mental Health Plan.

(June 2007) Community resource and online learning program: Developmental Disabilities Mental Health British Columbia Advance Practice