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The Impact of Anxiety on the Participation of Children on the Autism Spectrum


Anxiety is common in children on the autism spectrum, however its impacts are not fully understood. Participation is an important outcome, linked to the health and wellbeing of children. This study examined the relationship between anxiety and participation using parent reports for 131 children on the autism spectrum, aged 6–13 years. Hierarchical multiple regressions explored child and family factors in relation to participation in Home and Community settings. Anxiety was a unique, significant predictor of the frequency of children’s participation (but not involvement in activities) in both settings, when controlling for autism characteristics, communication skills and family income. Anxiety symptomatology may contribute to the less frequent participation of children on the autism spectrum in home and community activities.

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The authors thank the children with autism and their families for giving their time to support this research study. The authors acknowledge the LASA Team who supported this study: Jacqui Roberts (Project Leader), Susan Bruck, Trevor Clark, Sandra Devaraj, Robyn Garland, Honey Heussler, Antoinette Hodge, Patricia Howlin, Deb Keen, Jessica Paynter, Natalie Silove, David Trembath, Madonna Tucker, Marleen Westerveld, and Katrina Williams.


The authors acknowledge the financial support of The Co-operative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC; Project 2.007), established and supported under the Australian Government’s Co-operative Research Centres Program. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of any funding bodies.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design, material preparation, data collection and analysis. The first draft of the manuscript was written by KA and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kathryn Ambrose.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest with respect to the research, authorship, or publication of this article.

Ethical Approval

Ethical approval for this study was obtained from all participating universities and health authorities.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all parents in the study.

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Ambrose, K., Simpson, K. & Adams, D. The Impact of Anxiety on the Participation of Children on the Autism Spectrum. J Autism Dev Disord 52, 2958–2969 (2022).

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  • Autism
  • Anxiety
  • Participation
  • Home
  • Community
  • Mental health