Exploring self-harm risk vulnerabilities in autism using the ‘thinking patterns profiling model’
Stewart, Alex G.
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AbstractBackground: Autism has been linked to higher rates of self-harm. Research is yet to establish the reason for the association between autism and self-harm as a distress response. Methods: Using the ‘thinking patterns profiling model’, this study explored characteristics associated with self-harm risk in 100 autistic young people. Secondary analysis of routinely collected clinical data was conducted using odds ratios and t-tests. Results: We found the prevalence of reported self-harm risk was 48%. Young people with reported self-harm risks had significantly lower regulation skills (p ≤ 0.01) and lower social flexibility skills (p ≤ 0.01) compared to those without reported self-harm risk. For those described as impulsive, mean scores on the following skills were significantly lower: perspective-taking skills (p ≤ 0.01), flexible thinking for creative problem-solving (p ≤ 0.05) and sensory tolerating (p ≤ 0.05). There was no relationship between reported self-harm risk and adverse childhood experiences. Conclusions: These findings suggest that profiling tools such as ‘Thinking Patterns Profiling Model’ can be used to explore unique patterns of vulnerability and resilience related to self-harm risk in autism. The findings suggest that autistic thinking patterns might interplay with other factors (e.g. impulsivity). Patterns are based on each person’s profile across four core skill-sets: regulation, flexible thinking, sensory coherence, and social perspective-taking. These findings motivate a person-centred and profile-informed approach to planning support and adjustments. Further studies are needed to confirm the ways in which mechanisms typically involved in self-harm risk, may interact with core cognitive and affective differences found in autism.
CitationTollerfield, I., Wilkinson, E., Stewart, A. G., Nall-Evans, S., Michelet, F., Elliott, P., & Jaydeokar, S. (2023). Exploring self-harm risk vulnerabilities in autism using the ‘thinking patterns profiling model’. Discover Psychology, 3(1), article-number 8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s44202-023-00069-3
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
DescriptionFrom Springer Nature via Jisc Publications Router
History: received 2022-11-21, registration 2023-02-23, accepted 2023-02-23, epub 2023-03-20, online 2023-03-20, collection 2023-12
Acknowledgements: This project was conducted through the Structured Operational Research and Training Initiative (SORT IT), a global partnership led by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization. The training is based on a course developed jointly by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and Medécins sans Frontières. This specific SORT IT program was run by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership (CWP) NHS Foundation Trust as part of routine work. Mentorship and the coordination/facilitation of these SORT IT workshops were provided through the CWP NHS Foundation Trust; The Centre for Operational Research, The Union, Paris, France; The Institute of Medicine, University of Chester, UK; and College of Life and Environmental Science, University of Exeter. The authors would like to acknowledge the families who attended the autism diagnostic assessment profiling service, and to thank the experts by experience who shared their insight, contributed to interpretation of the study findings, and reviewed final versions of the manuscript. Experts by experience included Josef de la Moitie and Kevin Carrell who were happy to be named. The authors would also like to thank Professor Taj Nathan (Director of Research and Effectiveness), Dr Fiona Pender (Strategic Director), Anne Casey (Head of Clinical Services), Dr Ian Davidson (Consultant Psychiatrist and Royal College of Psychiatrists Autism Champion), and Heather Pearce (Advanced Specialist Speech and Language Therapist) all at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Finally, thank you to David Tollerfield for permission to use the ‘Thinking Patterns Profiling Model’ digital innovations as part of the diagnostic assessment profiling service.
Publication status: Published