Peer Victimization in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Co-occurring Anxiety: Relations with Psychopathology and Loneliness

  • Eric A. Storch
  • Michael J. Larson
  • Jill Ehrenreich-May
  • Elysse B. Arnold
  • Anna M. Jones
  • Patricia Renno
  • Cori Fujii
  • Adam B. Lewin
  • P. Jane Mutch
  • Tanya K. Murphy
  • Jeffrey J. Wood


Peer problems are common among children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and may be exacerbated among those who are also anxious. Yet, few data exist on the nature and psychosocial correlates of peer victimization in youth with ASD and anxiety. Accordingly, this study investigated associations among peer victimization, loneliness, autism-related social impairment, and psychopathology in a sample of 60 youth (ages 11–14 years) with ASD and co-occurring anxiety. Youth completed measures of peer victimization, loneliness, anxiety, and depression, while their parent completed measures of child behavioral and emotional problems, functional impairment in daily life, and autism-related social impairment. Modest rates of victimization were noted, with ~7 % and 15 % of youth reporting clinically significant relational and reputational victimization but 0 % of participants endorsing significant overt victimization. Peer victimization was directly but modestly associated with some psychosocial maladjustment indices, but not with autism-related social impairment. Although results have to be considered in the context of certain limitations, these data suggest that peer victimization may be associated with anxiety and depressive symptoms and loneliness in children with ASD and comorbid anxiety.


Autism Peer victimization Asperger’s Syndrome Bullying Children Anxiety Treatment Assessment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric A. Storch
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael J. Larson
    • 3
  • Jill Ehrenreich-May
    • 4
  • Elysse B. Arnold
    • 1
  • Anna M. Jones
    • 1
  • Patricia Renno
    • 5
  • Cori Fujii
    • 5
  • Adam B. Lewin
    • 1
  • P. Jane Mutch
    • 1
  • Tanya K. Murphy
    • 1
  • Jeffrey J. Wood
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics, Rothman Center for NeuropsychiatryUniversity of South FloridaSt. PetersburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of South FloridaSarasotaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and Neuroscience CenterBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  5. 5.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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