Does the Presence of Anxiety and ADHD Symptoms Add to Social Impairment in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience internalizing and externalizing problems at higher rates than typically developing children, which could worsen social impairment. The present study compared impairment scores (social responsiveness scale, 2nd edition; SRS-2 scores) in 57 children (3–17 years, 82.5% male) with ASD, either with or without heightened levels of anxiety or ADHD symptoms, all per parent report. Children with heightened anxiety problems showed higher scores on four SRS-2 subscales (Social Cognition, Social Communication, Social Motivation, and Restricted Interests and Repetitive Behavior). Children with heightened ADHD traits showed higher scores on two subscales (Social Communication and Social Awareness). These findings suggest similarities and differences in how social deficits in ASD may worsen with anxiety or ADHD symptoms.