Comorbid Social Anxiety Disorder in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

Social anxiety symptoms are common among cognitively unimpaired youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Few studies have investigated the co-occurrence of social anxiety disorder (SAD) in adults with ASD, although identification may aid access to effective treatments and inform our scientific efforts to parse heterogeneity. In this preliminary study, we examined the clinical presentation of SAD in adults with ASD (n = 28), relative to SAD uncomplicated by ASD (n = 26). A large subset (50 %) of the adults with ASD met diagnostic criteria for SAD. The adults with ASD plus SAD differed from those with ASD without SAD on several characteristics. Findings demonstrate that many adults with ASD are aware of their social difficulties and experience impairing social anxiety.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the Organization for Autism Research and the Virginia Tech Graduate Research Development Program as part of the first author’s doctoral dissertation.

Author Contributions

BM conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, collected the data, performed the statistical analysis, interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript; SW participated in the design and coordination of the study, assisted with interpretation of the data, and revised the manuscript critically. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Brenna B. Maddox.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest.

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All study procedures were approved by the institutional review board for human subject research. All participants provided informed consent.

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Maddox, B.B., White, S.W. Comorbid Social Anxiety Disorder in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 45, 3949–3960 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2531-5

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Adults
  • Assessment