Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 12, pp 3215-3229

A Systematic Review of Treatments for Anxiety in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Roma A. VasaAffiliated withKennedy Krieger InstituteDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Laura M. CarrollAffiliated withJohns Hopkins University
  • , Alixandra A. NozzolilloAffiliated withCenter for Child and Adolescent Health Research and Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children
  • , Rajneesh MahajanAffiliated withKennedy Krieger InstituteDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • , Micah O. MazurekAffiliated withDepartment of Health Psychology, University of MissouriThompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • , Amanda E. BennettAffiliated withDivision of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • , Logan K. WinkAffiliated withDivision of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • , Maria Pilar BernalAffiliated withKennedy Krieger InstituteDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford UniversityThe Permanente Medical Group

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

This study systematically examined the efficacy and safety of psychopharmacological and non-psychopharmacological treatments for anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Four psychopharmacological, nine cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and two alternative treatment studies met inclusion criteria. Psychopharmacological studies were descriptive or open label, sometimes did not specify the anxiety phenotype, and reported behavioral activation. Citalopram and buspirone yielded some improvement, whereas fluvoxamine did not. Non-psychopharmacological studies were mainly randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with CBT demonstrating moderate efficacy for anxiety disorders in youth with high functioning ASD. Deep pressure and neurofeedback provided some benefit. All studies were short-term and included small sample sizes. Large scale and long term RCTs examining psychopharmacological and non-psychopharmacological treatments are sorely needed.

Keywords

Anxiety Autism spectrum disorders Treatments Children Adolescents