University of Leicester
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Anxiety in high functioning children with autism

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:46 authored by Alinda. Gillott
High functioning children with autism were compared to two control groups on measures of anxiety and social worries. Comparison control groups consisted of children with expressive language disorder and typically developing children. Each group consisted of 15 children between the ages of 8 and 12 years and were matched for age and gender. Children with autism were found to be most anxious on both measures. High anxiety subscale scores for the autism group were separation anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Possible explanations for higher levels of anxiety in high functioning children with autism were explored. The groups were compared on measures of theory of mind, recognition and expression of emotion, communication and socialisation. The children with autism performed significantly worse than both control groups on the measure of socialisation. On the measures of theory of mind, recognition of emotion and communication skills, however, the children with autism did as well as children with expressive language disorder. Impairments in social abilities are, therefore, highlighted as possible factors contributing to anxiety in high functioning children with autism. Social anxiety was also found to correlate negatively with communication ability for the autism group. This is the first study to provide quantitative data on anxiety in children with autism. These findings are discussed within the context of theories of autism and anxiety in the general population of children. The clinical implications of these findings are also noted and suggestions for future research are made.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Clinical Psychology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



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