Title page for ETD etd-05182017-121122

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Smith, Isaac Christopher
Author's Email Address icsmith@vt.edu
URN etd-05182017-121122
Title Quality of life in young adults with ASD: Exploring the role of anxiety
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Susan W. White Committee Chair
Jungmeen Kim-Spoon Committee Member
Thomas H. Ollendick Committee Member
  • autism spectrum disorder; anxiety; quality of life
Date of Defense 2017-05-04
Availability unrestricted
The comorbidity of anxiety disorders and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is well-established. Although research on the comorbidity of anxiety disorders in adults with ASD is limited, preliminary studies suggest rates of comorbidity comparable to those found in children and adolescents. Little is known about the manifestation of anxiety symptoms in adults with ASD or the potential for these symptoms to impact quality of life in this population. The current study aimed to examine the role of anxiety symptoms in quality of life among young adults with ASD. We collected online survey data from a large sample (N = 224) of parents of young adults with ASD and a subsample of adults with ASD. Parent- and self-report data suggested a substantial proportion of adults with ASD exceeded clinical cutoffs for anxiety symptoms. Anxiety moderated the relationship between ASD severity and the social relations domain of quality of life. Anxiety symptoms did not, however, significantly moderate the effect on the psychological domain. Exploratory analyses also demonstrated significant indirect effects of ASD severity on social and psychological quality of life through anxiety symptoms. Results provide preliminary evidence that anxiety symptoms contribute to quality of life in adults with ASD independently of core ASD symptomatology. Future research should aim to further characterize anxiety symptoms among adults with ASD, as well as evaluate the impact of anxiety symptoms on quality of life and overall outcome through the use of prospective longitudinal studies.
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