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Digital self-management ‘reduces anxiety in autistic adults’

Brain in Hand platform found to deliver significant benefits to a range of symptoms, study finds

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Digital self-management can play a significant role in reducing anxiety in adults with autism, a new study has found. 

The study focused on the efficacy of Brain in Hand in supporting autistic adults, 96 per cent of whom are classified as experiencing anxiety. 

The independent study found Brain in Hand – a digital system which combines practical solution-focused coaching with digital tools and 24/7 on-demand human support – had a significant impact on participants’ anxiety levels. 

It also revealed improvements for other aspects of quality of life – self-injurious behaviour scores on the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales (HoNOS) were halved, reducing from 1.30 at baseline to 0.58 on follow up, and memory and orientation problems reduced from 0.88 to 0.47. 

Communication problems, sleep problems, problems with eating and drinking, and problems with relationships, were also reduced. Self-awareness increased. 

The research, led by researchers at the University of Leicester and University of Plymouth, was the first of its kind to investigate the impact of digital self-management in helping to support autism. 

“The publication of this study is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved and a real positive step for innovative digital support,” said Mat Taylor, commercial director at Brain in Hand. 

“Too often, autistic people face major challenges with anxiety but don’t get the help they need and deserve. We hope that this evidence for the effectiveness of our system will drive more services to adopt tools like ours and help more people who could really benefit.”

Connor Ward, autistic consultant and co-production lead at Brain in Hand, added: “For a lot of autistic people, anxiety can make it really hard to do the things we want to do and live life to the full. It’s really exciting to be part of something that could genuinely help a lot of people manage the challenges of day-to-day life better so they can focus on the things that matter most to them.”

Professor Rohit Shankar MBE, professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of Plymouth, led the study. 

Prof Shankar added: “There are more than 700,000 autistic people in the UK and therefore it’s important to find and research therapeutic methods of helping those who need it. 

“Every autistic individual has a unique set of experiences and needs but we know that many suffer chronic day to day anxiety which can impact their mental health. 

“The development of the Brain in Hand app is just one tool which could provide vital assistance to them at home or elsewhere.”

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