Anxiety in the Midst of Autism Spectrum Disorder

John D. Herrington, PhD

Disclosures

December 13, 2018

Recommendations for Professionals

The prevalence of anxiety in ASD is such that any child with ASD should be considered at significantly elevated risk. Providing an anxiety disorder diagnosis to someone with ASD may be the first step in connecting that person with treatments that can help. The single biggest step to take is to make the time to formally consider whether the child with ASD has an anxiety disorder.

The increased identification of anxiety among individuals with ASD opens the door for treatment that could drastically improve quality of life.

The diagnostic dilemmas described here are important considerations, but need not stand in the way of identifying the presence of an anxiety disorder. A critical next step for scientists is to develop tools and methods that allow us to be as confident as possible in making a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder in children on the autistic spectrum.

The increased identification of anxiety among individuals with ASD opens the door for treatment that could drastically improve quality of life. Although there is a pressing need to better establish the efficacy of anxiolytic medications among individuals with ASD, the increasing use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in this population is an example of how psychiatry is trying to address the problem.

Furthermore, there are a growing number of psychotherapy options for anxiety treatment that are tailored to individuals on the spectrum. Psychotherapists would be providing a tremendous service by developing an ASD specialization and opening up their doors to a population that is so clearly in need.

Related Articles

Diagnosis of Anxiety in Children With ASD

Untangling Anxiety and Autism

Social Anxiety, or Just Disinterested? (And Why it Matters.)

Notes from the Field—Treatment Options for Co-occurring Anxiety and Autism

For Youth Struggling With Social Skills, Treating Anxiety Could Be Key

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