Social Difficulties in Youth with Autism with and without Anxiety and ADHD Symptoms

Alana J. McVey, Medical College of Wisconsin
Hillary Schiltz, MaMedical College of Wisconsin
Angela D. Haendel, Medical College of Wisconsin
Bridget Kathleen Dolan, Marquette University
Kirsten S. Willar, Stanford University
Sheryl Pleiss, Great Lakes Neurohehabioral Center
Jeffrey S. Karst, Marquette University
Mary E. Carlson, Marquette University
Wendy Krueger, Marquette University
Christina L. Murphy, Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Christina L. Casnar, Brown University
Brianna D. Yund, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Amy V. Van Hecke, Marquette University

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

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

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

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


Social difficulties inherent to autism spectrum disorder are often linked with co-occurring symptoms of anxiety and 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 (CBCL). 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.