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Assessment and treatment of anxiety in youth with Autism spectrum disorders

TitleAssessment and treatment of anxiety in youth with Autism spectrum disorders
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsVasa, RA, Mazurek, MO, Mahajan, R, Bennett, AE, Bernal, MPilar, Nozzolillo, AA, L Arnold, E, Coury, DL

Lead Author
Roma A. Vasa

Study Aims and Objectives
To help primary care providers with the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Methods- Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
Network content advisors developed best practices through a series of conference calls with 14 leading multidisciplinary clinicians and researchers. The group drew from prior research as well as clinical experience in working with individuals with ASD and anxiety to determine assessment and treatment recommendations.

Results- Main Findings
Diagnosis- The team determined that primary care providers should go through an orderly, systematic process of anxiety diagnosis that includes interviews, observation, and child self-reporting. Primary care providers should be aware of diverse possible causes of anxiety symptoms, including medical problems and changes in the environment.

Treatment- The first step is to educate families and patients about the symptoms of anxiety in individuals with ASD. In terms of treatment, modified cognitive behavioral therapy could be used to reduce anxiety in children with ASD who have verbal capacity. Finally, medications could be considered. Because information is lacking about the use of certain medications in children with an ASD diagnosis, it is recommended that primary care providers are cautious when starting and stopping any new medication regimen in this population.

Conclusion- Summary Statement
The recommendations are a starting point for providers to begin standardizing their approach to the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety in children with ASD. These methods can be updated as new data become available about best practices regarding the management of anxiety in this population of children.

PubMed ID26908467
Summary category: