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PA Gathering: Health, Wellness, and Well-Being


This resource contains information from the first PA Gathering including a recording of the presentations and discussions, copies of the presentations and additional resources to supplement the topic.

Recording of the discussion from April 1, 2021 covering the topics of Health, Wellness and Well-Being. The gathering was hosted by Thomas Hassell and Mike Bomberger, with presentations by Dr. Nathan Geyer and Dr. Nicholas DeMarco. Links to their presentations are included below.

Prospectives on Health and Well Being: Dr. Geyer

Well-Being Definition and Categories

Well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good.

  • Physical well-being.
  • Economic well-being.
  • Social well-being.
  • Emotional well-being.
  • Psychological well-being.
  • https://www.cdc.gov/hrqol/wellbeing.htm

Health is more than the absence of disease; it is a resource that allows people to realize their aspirations, satisfy their needs and to cope with the environment in order to live a long, productive, and fruitful life.

Health enables social, economic and personal development fundamental to well-being.

Six Issues: Autism and Well Being

1.Low Participation in education beyond high school

  • Select a college that deals well with students with Autism
  • Extended time on tests
  • One on one sessions with professors
  • Supplemental notes from peers or professors
  • Proofreading at writing center
  • Priority scheduling
  • Distraction free environment for tests

2.High rates of unemployment or under-employment

  • Access PA State employment services that address specific challenges faced by adults with autism in the workplace.
  • Research job opportunities in your field
  • Obtain the services from a job coach
  • Create opportunities for dialogue with potential employers about the benefits of hiring individuals with autism.

3.High rate of living with family

  • Offer to contribute to household
  • Family needs to prioritize estate planning
  • Be willing to compromise
  • Balance time with family and times when I like to keep to myself

4.Low rate of maintaining friendships

  • Prioritize quality versus quantity of friendships
  • I found it easier to be friends with adults over children
  • Easier time making friends with others with Autism or related disorder
  • Hard time keeping up with a relationship (girlfriend)
  • Strong tendency to be bullied, betrayed and stood up by friends

5.High rates of medical comorbidities

  • Dysgraphia (Poor handwriting, but good typing-good speed poor accuracy)
  • Hyperlexia (Strong reading skills, relatively poor social skills reading comprehension w/o cues)
  • Dysprexia (poor hand eye coordination)
  • Procto Colitis (inflammation of colon)

6.Low rates of obtaining a driver’s license

  • Reason for a license
    • Independence
    • Transportation needs
  • Drive with caution-Limitations:
    • Reaction Time
    • Driving with passengers (Distractions)
    • Inadequate in interpreting distances
  • Fear that most parents and community have is that people with Autism cause accidents


  • Autism can be thought of as a special gift and not a disability (neuro-diversity)
  • Ability to avoid peer pressure in teens
  • Ability to point out things that people may overlook
  • Ability not to judge people by first impressions
  • Ability to strive to do the absolute best as possible despite some flaws (it is okay to be wrong just remember to be a lifelong learner)
  • Ability to become a self advocate
  • Ability to educate and inspire others about going to college or seek employment with a “disability”

COVID 19 and Stress Reduction: Dr. DeMarco

Healthy Routines

• Establish a daily or weekly schedule- Start small with changes
• Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
• Engage in exercise or some type of physical activity daily
• Keep consistent mealtimes
• Engage in self-care time


  • Increased awareness of one’s own thoughts, feelings and behaviors
  • The more you know about yourself then the better you can respond to situations
  • Examples: daily check in, mood diary

Checking Your Battery Life

  • Daily check in to determine how you are feeling and why
  • 0 – 100% charged
  • No charge/shutdown, needs brief charge, or fully charged
  • Halt- Ask yourself are you:
    • Hungry
    • Angry
    • Tired
    • Lonely


Remain present or in the moment

  • Aware of where you are and what your doing
  • Not reacting to what is going on around you or becoming overwhelmed

Choose an activity to do mindfully throughout the day

  • Stay in the moment and ask yourself what do you see, hear, smell, touch, or feel
  • Simple notice whenever your mind wanders then re-focus on your chosen mindful activity
  • Describe rather than judge and be patient with yourself

Hi 5 Breathing

The Stop Sign


  • Count 1 to 10
  • Take 4 deep breaths
  • Inhale through your nose
  • Hold for 2 seconds
  • Exhale through your mouth
  • Say something positive
  • “This will pass”
  • “I can do it”

5-4-3-2-1 Senses

  • 5 things I see
  • 4 things I can hear
  • 3 things I can touch or feel
  • 2 things I can smell or like the smell of
  • 1 take a slow deep breath

Positive Affirmations

  • Positive statements to highlight our positive qualities
  • If you think positive, then you will be positive
  • Examples:
    • I am doing my best.
    • Today is going to be a great day
    • I choose to be happy today


Social Supports

  • Maintain social connections with your family and friends even during quarantine or social distancing
  • Stay connected through phone calls, text messages, video calls, or on social media.
  • Regular contact with your social connections can decrease the feeling of isolation and improve your mood
  • Caution: don’t over do it!

Limit Media

  • It is important to stay informed about what is happening in the world.
  • However, too much information can be overwhelming and cause increased anxiety especially with the covid-19 coverage.
  • Set up a specific time that is scheduled in your day to check these media sources and keep yourself to that time.



The following PDF contains information and data from studies and the Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment,  specific to physical health and wellbeing for individuals with autism.


Additional Resources

Physical Health

Physical Health Resource Collection

This is a bundle of resources from a variety of sources that provide information on general physical health information as well as specific conditions individuals with autism may have.

View Resource

Video: Advocating for Healthcare Needs

This video provides information for individuals on how to advocate for themselves to get their healthcare needs met.

View Resource

Video: Sleep Hygiene

This presentation provides information about sleep hygiene, the importance of sleep, and tips for developing good nighttime sleep habits.

View Resource

Video: The Importance of Sleep

Watch this webinar to understand the benefits or quality sleep and for tips on getting proper sleep.

View Resource

Mental Health

Stand Up Against Stressors

This resource, developed by ASERT, provides information and tips for dealing with stress.

View Resource

Mental Health Resource Collection

This is a collection of resources from various sources on the topic of mental health for individuals with autism. Topics range from general mental health resources to anxiety, depression, behavioral concerns, services and assessment, psychopharmacology, and crisis intervention.

View Resource

Be Well, Think Well Resources

This collection of resources provides information for a wide range of individuals on different mental health conditions that individuals with autism may experience, as well as treatment options, and how to support individuals.

View Resource

Video: Maintaining Mental Health During a Pandemic

This video provides information about COVID-19 fatigue and how to maintain your mental health during the ongoing global pandemic.

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Video: Wellness and Mindfulness Strategies

In this video, tips and strategies are provided for families/caregivers on wellness and mindfulness techniques.

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Well-Being in Isolation Social Story

This social story reviews ways to cope with isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Well-Being in Isolation: Daily Checklist

This resource, developed by ASERT, provides a checklist of activities that can be done to help maintain your mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

View Resource

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Other downloads

Name Description Type File
Prospectives on Health and Well Being Dr. Geyer's presentation pdf Download file: Prospectives on Health and Well Being
COVID 19 and Stress Reduction Dr. DeMarco's presentation pdf Download file: COVID 19 and Stress Reduction

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.