A comparison of the content and nature of worries of autistic and neurotypical young people as they transition from school

Waldman, J., McPaul, A. and Jahoda, A. (2023) A comparison of the content and nature of worries of autistic and neurotypical young people as they transition from school. Autism, 27(3), pp. 667-678. (doi: 10.1177/13623613221111313) (PMID:35893767) (PMCID:PMC10074755)

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The prevalence of anxiety is higher in autistic young people, compared to neurotypical youths. However, the nature of worry in autistic young people is under-researched. Transition from secondary school is a time of change and can be challenging for autistic adolescents. This project explored the content and emotional impact of worries in neurotypical and autistic young people during transition. Twenty-two autistic people and 22 neurotypical people, aged 16–18, were recruited from mainstream schools. Participants completed a novel task to identify and explore the nature of their main worries. The participants’ worry frequency and distress levels in relation to their most salient concerns, and their anxiety levels, were measured. Content analysis highlighted similarities and differences between the two groups’ worries. Both groups worried about failure and their prospects of further education. Autistic people were more concerned about change and friendship, whereas more salient worries for neurotypical individuals were about work and money. Autistic people were more distressed by their worries than neurotypical individuals. Findings regarding the nature of autistic young people’s worries may help inform interventions. Moreover, asking autistic people about their worries as they leave school may help to address their concerns, ease their transition and reduce distress.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jahoda, Professor Andrew and Waldman, Mr Jack
Authors: Waldman, J., McPaul, A., and Jahoda, A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Autism
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1461-7005
Published Online:27 July 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Autism 27(3):667-678
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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