Effects of Anxiety Disorder Severity on Social Functioning in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
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Maladaptive social functioning is a core deficit in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, few studies have explicitly examined the linkage between anxiety and the degree of social functioning impairment in children with ASD. This study examines several types of anxiety and their covariation with social functioning deficits in children with ASD. Participants were 53 children with ASD who met criteria for at least one anxiety disorder. Within this sample of children, social anxiety disorder was the most common anxiety disorder. Results indicated that a greater severity of social anxiety disorder was associated with a higher level of social functioning deficits for elementary school aged children with ASD. Specifically, exploratory analyses revealed that higher levels of social anxiety disorder predicted lower assertive and responsible social skills. Social anxiety may increase the barriers to social engagement and thus serve as a risk factor for increased social deficits in youth with ASD.
KeywordsAutism Social anxiety disorder Social functioning Comorbidity
The authors would like to gratefully acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the families who participated in this study.
This research was supported by Cure Autism Now Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health (MH075806), Jeff Wood, Principal Investigator. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIMH.
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