Looking Beyond Autism:
Treating Anxiety, Depression and OCD in Children and Youth with ASD

Filmed November 2015 – edited into 7 parts; total 76 minutes

This page has been designed to support Webinar 2 Looking Beyond Autism: Treating Anxiety, Depression and OCD in Children and Youth with ASD.

The previous webinar, Recognizing Mental Health Disorders, focused on raising awareness of  ASD; higher incidences of mental health conditions among children and adults with ASD; Behavior Analysts and the mental health team; eligible services from Children and Youth Mental Health teams or from Development Disability Mental Health Teams.

Page Index

Anxiety – Dr. Melanie McConnell
OCD – Dr. David Worling
Depression – Dr. Anthony Bailey
Panelist Comments (Georgina Robinson and David Batstone) 
Additional Resources:
Screening and Assessment 
Cognitive Behavior Therapy 
Community Resources

Video: Introduction – Deborah Pugh

Video: Anxiety – Melanie McConnell

Presenter: Melanie McConnell, PhD, RPsych in Neuropsychiatry, BC Children’s Hospital Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry; Clinical Investigator, Child and Family Research Institute; Clinical Instructor, UBC Developmental Disorders Program 

Children and youth with ASD are at an increased risk for developing anxiety, which often exacerbates core autism symptoms. The anxiety can interfere with social development, life skills, academic achievement and relationships. Anxiety symptoms are often incorrectly attributed to ASD, and this diagnostic overshadowing is a barrier to accessing treatment. 


Resources from the presentation

Additional Resources


Video: OCD – David Worling

Presenter: Dr. David Worling, RPsych, Clinical Director, Westcoast Child Development Group

In distinguishing between typical OCD features and more typical ASD features, there is a need to take into account: emotional valence of the thoughts and compulsions; content of the obsessions and compulsions; function of the obsessive-compulsive behaviors and patterns of restrictive and repetitive behaviors.

Resources from the presentation:

  • Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale in Autism Spectrum Disorder (CYBOCS-ASD) (Scahill et. al., 2014)
  • What is OCD? Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Understand the Facts: OCD. Anxiety and Depression Association of America 

Additional Resources

Video: Depression – Anthony Bailey

Presenter: Professor Anthony Bailey, Ph.D., Chair Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of British Columbia. 

Video: Panelist Georgina Robinson

Video: Panelist David Batstone

Video: Questions and Answers

Screening and Assessment 

Cognitive Behavior Therapy 

Key modifications for ASD include: parents as “coach” or co-therapist;  increase visual supports and hands-on activities; use modelling/practice/repetition to support generalization; incorporate special interests; provide positive reinforcement/rewards; address underlying skills deficits. 

Community Resources 

OMHAP Project Looking Beyond Autism

Video and resources from Webinar 1: Recognising Mental Health Disorders

Contact ACT for more information or search the AID for more resources.

Learning Objectives – Treating Anxiety, Depression and OCD:

Identify specific environmental changes important in the reduction of precipitating and maintaining factors for mental health disorders.

Employ specific techniques to approach diagnosis and care of children and youth with developmental issues co-morbid with common mental health disorders.

Describe and distinguish the available treatment options, including the associated benefits, limitations and risks of specific medications for treating core symptoms of ASD.

Recognize the importance of cognitive behavioral approaches to treating anxiety, depression and OCD in ASD, with modifications.

Access and utilize resources and tools to support care of children and youth with developmental issues and mental health disorders in a primary care setting.