Autism Journal Club

An exploration of autism‐specific and non‐autism‐specific measures of anxiety symptomatology in school‐aged autistic children

Elliot Millington will be presenting paper by den Houting, J., Adams, D., Roberts, J. & Keen, D. (2018) An exploration of autism‐specific and non‐autism‐specific measures of anxiety symptomatology in school‐aged autistic children. Abstract: Background: Anxiety symptoms are common in autistic children; however, it is difficult to accurately assess the symptoms of anxiety in this population due to a lack of autism-specific anxiety assessment tools. The Anxiety Scale for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASC-ASD) is a newly developed measure designed to address this need. The ASC-ASD is designed specifically for use with autistic children, and is designed to assess both typical and atypical anxiety symptomatology. This study aimed to provide preliminary data regarding the validity of the ASC-ASD, as well as rates of cross-informant agreement and prevalence of anxiety symptomatology as measured by the ASC-ASD. Methods: In order to explore the profile of anxiety symptomatology captured by the ASC-ASD, the ASC-ASD and Spence Children's Anxiety Scale (SCAS) were administered to 30 autistic children, ages 10–12, and their parents. Results: High rates of anxiety symptomatology were found, with 46% of the children and 80% of their parents reporting scores in the clinical range on the SCAS. Scores on the SCAS and ASC-ASD were moderately to strongly correlated. Overall, children tended to endorse more items on the ASC-ASD, whereas parents tended to endorse more items on the SCAS. Conclusions: Findings suggest that autistic children and their parents may have different perceptions of the anxiety symptoms experienced by autistic children. Findings also indicated that the ASC-ASD has promise as an autism-specific assessment of anxiety symptomatology in children, although further research is required in this area.