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Pediatrics. 2016 Feb;137 Suppl 2:S115-23. doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-2851J.

Assessment and Treatment of Anxiety in Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Author information

1
Kennedy Krieger Institute and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; vasa@kennedykrieger.org.
2
Department of Health Psychology at the University of Missouri and Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Columbia, Missouri;
3
Kennedy Krieger Institute and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland;
4
Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
5
Children's Health Council, Palo Alto, California;
6
Center for Child and Adolescent Health Research and Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; and.
7
Nisonger Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and.
8
Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Anxiety is one of the most prevalent co-occurring symptoms in youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The assessment and treatment recommendations proposed here are intended to help primary care providers with the assessment and treatment of anxiety in ASD.

METHODS:

The Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network/Autism Intervention Research on Physical Health Anxiety Workgroup, a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers with expertise in ASD, developed the clinical recommendations. The recommendations were based on available scientific evidence regarding anxiety treatments, both in youth with ASD and typically developing youth, and clinical consensus of the workgroup where data were lacking.

RESULTS:

Assessment of anxiety requires a systematic approach to evaluating symptoms and potential contributing factors across various developmental levels. Treatment recommendations include psychoeducation, coordination of care, and modified cognitive-behavioral therapy, particularly for children and adolescents with high-functioning ASD. Due to the limited evidence base in ASD, medications for anxiety should be prescribed cautiously with close monitoring of potential benefits and side effects.

CONCLUSIONS:

Assessment and treatment of clinical anxiety in youth with ASD require a standardized approach to improve outcomes for youth with ASD. Although this approach provides a framework for clinicians, clinical judgment is recommended when making decisions about individual patients.

PMID:
26908467
DOI:
10.1542/peds.2015-2851J
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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