Restricted interests and anxiety in children with autism.

TitleRestricted interests and anxiety in children with autism.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsSpiker, MA, Lin EC, Van Dyke M, Wood JJ
JournalAutism : the international journal of research and practice
Date Published2012 May

A preoccupation with restricted interests (RI) is a core symptom of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Engagement in RI is commonly observed in this population and impacts social, adaptive, and emotional functioning. The presence of anxiety disorders and overlap in symptom expression with RI, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), in children with ASD suggests a possible link between anxiety and the RI manifestation. RI play a multidimensional role in ASD and have been described as being expressed in multiple forms, such as fact collection or the enactment of RI through play. However, there is little research exploring in more detail the possible relationship between RI expression and anxiety. To explore the association between RI expression and anxiety, the current study examined the association between the various modes of RI expression and anxiety disorder symptoms in 68 elementary-aged children diagnosed with high-functioning ASD. Findings indicated that symbolic enactment of RI in the form of play, rather than information collection or time engaged in RI, was significantly linked with the increased presence and severity of anxiety symptoms. The conceptualization of RI as possible maladaptive coping responses to negative emotional experiences is discussed.

Alternate JournalAutism