, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 302-317,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 07 Jul 2011

Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents with Autistic Spectrum Disorders: A Meta-Analysis

Abstract

There is considerable evidence that children and adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) are at increased risk of anxiety and anxiety disorders. However, it is less clear which of the specific DSM-IV anxiety disorders occur most in this population. The present study used meta-analytic techniques to help clarify this issue. A systematic review of the literature identified 31 studies involving 2,121 young people (aged <18 years) with ASD, and where the presence of anxiety disorder was assessed using standardized questionnaires or diagnostic interviews. Across studies, 39.6% of young people with ASD had at least one comorbid DSM-IV anxiety disorder, the most frequent being specific phobia (29.8%) followed by OCD (17.4%) and social anxiety disorder (16.6%). Associations were found between the specific anxiety disorders and ASD subtype, age, IQ, and assessment method (questionnaire versus interview). Implications for the identification and treatment of anxiety in young people with ASD are discussed.