The Relationship Between Autistic Traits and Social Anxiety, Worry, Obsessive–Compulsive, and Depressive Symptoms: Specific and Non-specific Mediators in a Student Sample

Shi Min Liew, Nishta Thevaraja, Ryan Y. Hong, Iliana Magiati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The high prevalence of anxiety symptoms in individuals with autism spectrum disorders has now been well documented. There is also a positive relationship between autistic traits and anxiety symptoms in unselected samples and individuals with anxiety disorders have more autistic traits compared to those without. Less is known, however, regarding which elements of autistic traits (i.e., social versus non-social/behavioral) or which other variables may mediate this relationship. This study investigated the shared and specific role of five autistic-trait related mediators (social problem-solving, social competence, teasing experiences, prevention from/punishment for preferred repetitive behaviors and aversive sensory experiences) in a non-clinical sample of 252 university students. Autistic traits positively correlated with both anxiety and depressive symptoms. Social competence mediated the relationship between autistic traits and social anxiety symptoms only, while only prevention from preferred repetitive behaviors and frequent aversive sensory experiences mediated the relationship between autistic traits, worry and obsessive–compulsive symptoms. Replication of these findings is required in longitudinal studies and with clinical samples. Limitations of the study are discussed and possible implications for intervention are tentatively suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)858-872
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes

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