Anxiety, Social Deficits, and Loneliness in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore relationships among anxiety, loneliness, and degree of social skill deficit in a sample of youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Participants (N = 20) were between 7 and 14 years of age, verbal, and had low average or higher assessed intelligence (average IQ = 92 ± 14.41). Youth who self-reported elevated levels of anxiety reported greater feelings of social loneliness. Those participants earning above average total anxiety scores reported significantly more loneliness than those with less anxiety (F = 6.60, p < .05). A significant relationship between parent-reported child withdrawal and depression and social disability also was found. Recommendations for assessment of co-occurring psychiatric problems in youth with ASD are offered.

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Acknowledgments

This project was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health [1K01MH079945-01; PI: S. W. White]. The authors acknowledge the consultation of Jessica Schneider, MA.

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Correspondence to Susan W. White.

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White, S.W., Roberson-Nay, R. Anxiety, Social Deficits, and Loneliness in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 39, 1006–1013 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-009-0713-8

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Asperger
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Social skills