Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 361-370

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Autism Spectrum Traits in Children with Anxiety Disorders

  • Francisca J. A. van SteenselAffiliated withResearch Institute of Child Development and Education, University of Amsterdam Email author 
  • , Susan M. BögelsAffiliated withResearch Institute of Child Development and Education, University of Amsterdam
  • , Jeffrey J. WoodAffiliated withDepartments of Education and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California


The aim of this study was to examine ASD traits in children with clinical anxiety in early development, as well as current manifestations. Parents of 42 children with an anxiety disorder (but no known diagnosis of ASD) and 42 typically developing children were interviewed using the Autism Diagnostic Interview (ADI-R). They also completed questionnaires that assessed child anxiety (SCARED-71) and children’s ASD symptoms. Results revealed that children with anxiety disorders had higher scores than typically developing children, for both ASD traits in early development as well as current ASD symptoms. A specific association was found between symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder and ASD traits early in life. Findings are considered in terms of clinical implications, and limitations are discussed.


Anxiety ASD ADI-R Children Risk factor