Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), which is marked by severe social disabilities, also present with higher rates of anxiety. Understanding the qualitative symptoms that underlie anxiety in ASD may help to better characterize the overlap of ASD and anxiety symptomology and suggest targeted treatment strategies. Twenty mothers with male children diagnosed with high-functioning ASD were interviewed using a follow-up interview to the SCAS parent rating scale, in order to better understand how mothers perceive their child's anxious thoughts, behaviors and cognitions. All interviews were transcribed and thematic analysis was used to analyze the results. Eight themes emerged from the analysis: first, anxious symptoms in children with autism negatively impacts the whole family; second, anxiety interferes with the child's life; third, mothers can identify anxiety by their child's anxious behavior; fourth, children with ASD utilize coping strategies to reduce their anxiety; fifth, children with ASD experience physiological symptoms with their anxiety; sixth, anxiety and anxious thoughts go together; seventh, mothers can identify the etiology of children's anxiety; and eighth, children's anxious thoughts are perceived by their mothers as reasonable. Interventions for anxiety in ASD should consider the whole family system including education, symptom reduction, and possible respite care.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Palilla, Jessica Mae, "Mothers' Views of Their Children's Anxiety in Autism: A Qualitative Approach" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 6170.
autism, anxiety, interference, anxious behaviors, aggression, family systems