Parent-Reported Behavioural Symptoms of Anxiety in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders across Levels of Functioning
MetadataShow full item record
The current study examined anxiety and its observable correlates in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) across a broad range of levels of cognitive functioning that in the past have not been accurately explored. I sought to challenge the assumption that there is a positive linear relationship between anxiety and level of cognitive functioning by including individuals across a broad range of cognitive functioning in my analyses, and by developing a measure (The Somatic Anxiety Scale) appropriate for assessing anxiety symptoms in children with little to no communicative functioning. Sixty-seven parents of children with ASD aged 5 to 12 completed a battery of measures in an online study assessing their child’s anxiety, repetitive behaviours, sensory processing issues, and adaptive functioning. The Somatic Anxiety Scale was significantly correlated with an existing measure of anxiety designed for verbal children (when only highly verbal children were assessed), suggesting that it may provide a foundation to develop a measure of anxiety symptoms in non-verbal individuals. No clear predictive relationship was observed between level of cognitive functioning and anxiety. Both lower and higher-order repetitive behaviours predicted anxiety, although higher-order behaviours were more predictive. Finally, a cluster analysis indicated three patterns of anxious behaviour divided across three categorizations of level of functioning. I suggest that previous assumptions about the relationship between level of cognitive functioning and anxiety may be underestimating the complexity of the relationship and suggest future research to study this relationship further.