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Be Well, Think Well: Supporting Individuals with Bipolar and Autism

It can be difficult to know how to support someone who has bipolar disorder. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

Develop a Relationship

As with anyone, the important thing about working with someone with autism and bipolar disorder, is taking the time to develop trust between you. Trust is built by being attentive to the person, being consistent in what you say and what you do, and following through on commitments you make.

Concentrate on Relationship

It’s important to listen to what the person is feeling rather than individual events. Often, the person may have difficulty recognizing their emotions, so it is a good idea to explore this a bit with them and offer a choice of possible emotions. At times, their feelings may be more volatile. It is important to stay calm and relaxed as you discuss these things.

Project Calm

You may find there are times when the person seems very excitable or becomes quickly angry. Your response can help them settle back down. Speaking in a calm, quiet voice, and keeping a relaxed posture can help. If you are feeling anxious or fearful, try taking deep breaths first or counting slowly to 10 before speaking. Avoid arguing or telling them what to feel, opting instead for quiet validation and providing healthy, reasonable choices.

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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.