The Role of Emotion Regulation on Co-occurring Psychopathology in Emerging Adults with ASD

  • Anna S. Charlton
  • Isaac C. Smith
  • Carla A. Mazefsky
  • Susan W. WhiteEmail author


Deficits in emotion regulation (ER) are commonly observed in individuals with ASD and may contribute to elevated rates of psychiatric comorbidity. The objective of this study was to understand the relationship between ER (self-and caregiver-reported) and clinician-assigned mood and anxiety disorders in emerging adults with ASD (n = 27). Individuals with an anxiety or mood disorder demonstrated significantly greater involuntary engagement (IE) for ER than those without an anxiety or unipolar depression diagnosis. Furthermore, those without anxiety or depression reported significantly more voluntary engagement (VE). However, consistent with prior findings outside of ASD, IE appears closely associated with internalizing diagnoses, even when VE is also utilized. Research on clinical approaches to reduce reliance on involuntary approaches to emotion management should be pursued.


Emotion regulation Comorbidity Emerging adulthood Autism spectrum disorder 


Author Contributions

ASC, ICS, and SWW conceived of the study. ASC and ICS drafted the manuscript. CAM participated in study design, data analyses, and manuscript writing. SWW directed the study, oversaw data collection, helped with analyses, and contributed to manuscript development.


This study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (Grant No. R34MH104337, White).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna S. Charlton
    • 1
  • Isaac C. Smith
    • 1
  • Carla A. Mazefsky
    • 2
  • Susan W. White
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Center for Youth Development and Intervention, Department of PsychologyUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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