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Autism Research

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Social difficulties inherent to autism spectrum disorder are often linked with co‐occurring symptoms of anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The present study sought to examine the relation between such co‐occurring symptoms and social challenges. Parents of adolescents with autism (N = 113) reported upon social challenges via the social responsiveness scale (SRS) and anxiety and ADHD symptomatology via the Child Behavior Checklist. Results revealed differences in SRS scores across co‐occurring symptom subgroups (Anxiety, ADHD, Both, Neither)—namely, adolescents with autism and anxiety as well as those with autism, anxiety, and ADHD showed greater scores on the SRS than the other groups. Implications for research and clinical practice are discussed and recommendations are offered.

Lay Summary

Anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms are related to greater social challenges for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. The present study found that autism with anxiety and autism with anxiety and ADHD, was related to greater social difficulties than autism alone. Findings provide further support for the intertwined nature of anxiety and ADHD symptoms in autism. What this may mean for research and clinical practice is considered and recommendations are suggested.


Accepted version. Autism Research, Vol. 11, No. 12 (December 2018): 1679-1689. DOI. © 2018 Wiley. Used with permission.

Jeffrey S. Karst was affiliated with Medical College of Wisconsin at the time of publication.

Mary Carlson and Wendy Krueger were affiliated with Alpert Medical School of Brown University at the time of publication.

Amy Vaughan Van Hecke was affiliated with University of Wisconsin at the time of publication.

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