Anxiety and ASD: Current Progress and Ongoing Challenges
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Symptoms of anxiety add significant burden to many autistic individuals and their loved ones. There is an urgent need for better understanding of the unique underlying mechanisms of anxiety in ASD, and for the development of more specific assessment methods and treatment recommendations. This special issue brings together 24 articles grouped into three themes; mechanisms, measurement, and intervention. The result is a review of current anxiety research in ASD that is both broad and deep. Key themes include recognition of the importance individual differences in aetiology and presentation of anxiety in ASD, the need for a more nuanced understanding of the interactions between anxiety and characteristics of ASD and the need to develop appropriately adapted treatments.
This special issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (JADD) aims to showcase the most recent research on anxiety in ASD. Around 50% of autistic individuals will experience anxiety that significantly impacts on their daily lives and the lives of their loved ones. When present, anxiety reduces quality of life and interferes with education, employment, and achievement of potential. The urgent need to address this pressing clinical issue was highlighted by the Autistica Priority Setting Partnership (2015), undertaken in collaboration with the autism community in the UK, which identified mental health concerns as the top priority for autism research with specific emphasis on the development of interventions to reduce anxiety identified as amongst the top five research priorities.
The idea for this Special Issue arose as a consequence of discussions which took place at the Anxiety and ASD Special Interest Group at the International Meeting for Autism Research in 2015, with the call for papers issued in summer of 2015. We have been privileged to receive very many high quality submissions, all of which have been subjected to standard peer review processes. The outcome of this endeavour is this special issue, comprising 24 excellent papers from the leading international researchers in the field. Our aspiration was to present to JADD readership the most up-to-date scientific and methodological developments in the field. The papers included in this special issue fall into three broad themes: (1) mechanisms and correlates underpinning the development and maintenance of anxiety in ASD, (2) issues with measurement, assessment, and stability of anxiety in ASD, and (3) interventions for anxiety for autistic people.