Anxiety in adults with autism: perspectives from practitioners

Ainsworth, K., Robertson, A. E. , Welsh, H., Day, M., Watt, J., Barry, F., Stanfield, A. and Melville, C. (2020) Anxiety in adults with autism: perspectives from practitioners. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 69, 101457. (doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2019.101457)

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Background: Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition, characterized by differences in social communication and social interaction as well as restricted interests and repetitive behaviours (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Research has suggested that 50% of adults with autism meet criteria for an anxiety disorder diagnosis (Russell et al., 2013). Despite a call for multidisciplinary insights (White et al., 2018), few studies have included perspectives of practitioners in this field. Method: We conducted interviews with eight practitioners (6 Clinical Psychologists, 1 Consultant Clinical Psychologist and 1 Nurse Practitioner) who work with adults with autism and anxiety on a regular basis. Results: Via thematic analysis, four key themes were identified: 1. Modifications to psychological therapy 2. Thinking outside the box 3. Continued support 4. Issues with anxiety measures. Conclusion: Modification of standard anxiety interventions are common in practice but the course and nature of these modifications are inconsistent and may depend on practitioner experience. Practitioners may consistently have to think inventively in order to best serve adults with autism and anxiety. Current anxiety measures could be improved in order to accurately gauge anxiety, specific to adults with autism. These findings are discussed in relation to practice and future research.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Robertson, Dr Ashley and Ainsworth, Dr Kirsty and Melville, Professor Craig
Authors: Ainsworth, K., Robertson, A. E., Welsh, H., Day, M., Watt, J., Barry, F., Stanfield, A., and Melville, C.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
ISSN (Online):1878-0237
Published Online:18 October 2019

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