Autism and Anxiety in Children

Anxiety in autistic children may lead to lower quality of life

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can create struggles for children to overcome. For some children, anxiety disorders with ASD can interfere with life.

A recent study found that anxiety in children with or without ASD can affect quality of life.

Anxiety for children with ASD is similar to anxiety seen in children without ASD, so similar treatments for anxiety can be used to help them deal with these issues.

"Tell your child’s pediatrician about any anxiety symptoms."

The study by Francisca van Steensel with Susan Bogels, PhD, of the Research Institute of Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam, looked at the quality of life for children with ASD and an anxiety disorder compared to children with anxiety but no ASD.

They enrolled 237 families and compared anxiety symptoms, types of anxiety disorders, ASD-like symptoms, and quality of life reports using standardized surveys.

Phobias were more common in children with ASD than those without, but otherwise both groups of children had similar types of anxiety disorders and symptoms.

Parents of children with ASD reported that their children had higher levels of anxiety symptoms than parents of children without ASD.

In both groups, children with higher anxiety and more ASD-like symptoms had lower quality of life.

The authors concluded that anxiety disorders in children with or without ASD can interfere with quality of life, and treatments tailored to children with ASD are needed.

dailyrx.com spoke with Glen Elliott, MD, PhD, about these results.  He said, “What this paper shows is that anxiety in children who also have ASD can be a significant additional burden to them and their families.  This is important because that is something that we can help relieve through medications and different types of talk therapy.”

The research report was published July 9 in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. Conflicts of interest information was not available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 16, 2012
Last Updated:
February 6, 2013