Characteristics and anxiety symptom presentation associated with autism spectrum traits in youth with anxiety disorders

Department of Psychology, Temple University, 1701 N. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122, United States.
Journal of anxiety disorders (Impact Factor: 2.68). 02/2012; 26(3):459-67. DOI: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2012.01.010
Source: PubMed


There is limited information about the nature of anxiety among youth with symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The present study examined (a) differences in the clinical characteristics of anxious youth with and without symptoms of ASD and (b) the symptoms of anxiety that best distinguish between these groups. Results indicated that anxious youth with elevated ASD symptoms had significantly more diagnoses (e.g., specific phobias), and were more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for social phobia (and list social concerns among their top fears) than youth without elevated ASD symptoms. At the symptom level, severity of interpersonal worry based on parent report and severity of fear of medical (doctor/dentist) visits based on youth report best differentiated ASD status. The findings inform diagnostic evaluations, case conceptualization, and treatment planning for youth with anxiety disorders and ASD symptoms.

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Available from: Cara A Settipani, Jan 26, 2015
    • "In studies of individuals with anxiety and/or mood disorders but without ASD, high rates of autistic traits and symptoms have been reported (Pine et al. 2008; van Steensel et al. 2013). Clinically anxious adolescents with higher levels of autistic traits but no ASD diagnosis have more diagnoses of anxiety disorders, social phobia, interpersonal worries and are more resistant to ''traditional'' cognitive behavioral interventions for anxiety compared to clinically anxious adolescents with fewer autistic traits (Settipani et al. 2012; Puleo and Kendall 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: The high prevalence of anxiety symptoms in individuals with autism spectrum disorders has now been well documented. There is also a positive relationship between autistic traits and anxiety symptoms in unselected samples and individuals with anxiety disorders have more autistic traits compared to those without. Less is known, however, regarding which elements of autistic traits (i.e., social versus non-social/behavioral) or which other variables may mediate this relationship. This study investigated the shared and specific role of five autistic-trait related mediators (social problem-solving, social competence, teasing experiences, prevention from/punishment for preferred repetitive behaviors and aversive sensory experiences) in a non-clinical sample of 252 university students. Autistic traits positively correlated with both anxiety and depressive symptoms. Social competence mediated the relationship between autistic traits and social anxiety symptoms only, while only prevention from preferred repetitive behaviors and frequent aversive sensory experiences mediated the relationship between autistic traits, worry and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Replication of these findings is required in longitudinal studies and with clinical samples. Limitations of the study are discussed and possible implications for intervention are tentatively suggested.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
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    • "Anxiety behavior is a predominant feature of some psychiatric disorders including autism, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression (Settipani et al., 2012). Epidemiological studies have indicated that there is an association between common brain disorders and aberrant neuroimmune activation (Ellman and Susser, 2009; Hagberg et al., 2012; Onore et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Maternal Bisphenol A (BPA) diet triggers anxiety in rodents, but the underlying mechanism is still unclear. Accumulating epidemiological and experimental data have demonstrated that the anxiety is associated with aberrant neuroimmune response. In this study, we found that maternal BPA diet (MBD) exacerbated anxiety-like behavior in female juvenile mice, and the molecular evidence further showed that this behavioral phenotype was connected to the neuroimmune activation, such as elevated tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin (IL)-6 levels in prefrontal cortex (PFC) rather than in peripheral blood, which indicated that neuroimmune response might be ascribed to neuroglial activation because activated neuroglia cells could secrete proinflammatory cytokines. Subsequently, we found that ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule (Iba)-1 as a selective marker for microglia and glial fibrillary acidic protein as a specific marker for astrocyte were significantly increased at transcriptional and translational levels, which confirmed the neuroglial activation in this model. Therefore, we conclude that MBD induces excessive anxiety-like behavior in female juvenile with elevated TNF-α and IL-6 levels, as well as activated microglia and astrocyte in PFC. Herein caution must be taken to prevent potential risks from MBD becuase exacerbated anxiety-like behavior in female juvenile by MBD may be a critical contribution for subsequent growth or mental disorders. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Toxicology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: [email protected] /* */
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Toxicological Sciences
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    • "Anxiety symptoms are common in ASD (White et al. 2009) and diagnosable anxiety disorders occur in approximately 40 % of children and adolescents with ASD (van Steensel et al. 2011). When present, problems with anxiety among adolescents with ASD contribute to adverse outcomes, such as decreased response to treatment (e.g., social skills training) and poorer relationships with family and teachers (Mayes et al. 2011; Settipani et al. 2012; Sukhodolsky et al. 2008; White et al. 2009). However, we know little about the potential relationship between anxiety symptoms in parents of children with ASD, much less the possible influence of parental anxiety on adolescents with ASD. "
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    ABSTRACT: Comorbid anxiety is common among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and parents of children with ASD are more likely to have anxiety disorders. This study investigated the relationship between parents' state and trait anxiety and parent-reported internalizing and externalizing symptoms among adolescents (n = 30) with ASD, as well as the relationship of parents' anxiety symptoms and adolescent treatment response in the context of a randomized controlled trial. Parental state anxiety correlated with severity of adolescent anxiety, and trait anxiety in parents correlated with parent-reported adolescent internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Also, parents of adolescent treatment responders experienced a decrease in their own trait anxiety. Findings highlight the importance of considering parental anxiety when targeting anxiety among youth with ASD.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
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