Effect of Co-occurring Psychiatric Disorders on Treatment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Anxiety

Academic Article


  • Co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses are very common in individuals with ASD. Little is known about the effect that co-occurring psychiatric conditions may have on treatment response to CBT for children with ASD and anxiety. The present study examined the relationship between co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses and response to CBT for anxiety in ninety youth with ASD. Psychiatric complexity did not appear to differentially impact treatment response. A notable portion of youth with anxiety and externalizing disorders such as ADHD, no longer met criteria for those externalizing diagnoses following intervention. Results indicate that youth with ASD and anxiety present with complex psychiatric profiles and CBT for anxiety may positively affect co-occurring diagnoses. In addition, thorough and nuanced assessment of psychiatric symptoms in youth with ASD is needed to ensure the differentiation between diagnoses of anxiety and other co-occurring psychiatric symptoms.
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    Author List

  • Meyer AT; Moody EJ; Keefer A; O’Kelley S; Duncan A; Blakeley-Smith A; Reaven J