Exploring the nature of anxiety in young adults on the autism spectrum: A qualitative study


Currently, there are inadequate measures available to assess anxiety in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

We examined the nature of anxiety in young adults with ASD utilising thematic analysis based on a DSM-5 framework.

Adults with ASD presented with both DSM-related and ASD-specific anxiety presentations.

ASD individuals described mentally “Shutting down”, which could lead to destructive self-injurious coping behaviours (i.e. “Melting down”).


Our findings support the predicted outcome that there are both ASD-specific anxiety and DSM-5-related anxiety symptomatology in young adults with ASD, compared with young adults with anxiety who show only DSM-5 symptomatology. Future research elucidating the relationship between ASD symptomatology and anxiety in ASD, utilising both quantitative and qualitative measures, is crucial to enable a more comprehensive understanding of the nuances of anxiety in ASD. Gaining this knowledge is a crucial step for the development of more accurate and appropriate assessment and treatment tools that can target their specific anxiety experiences.

Author links open overlay panelAndrew T.HalimabAmanda L.RichdaleabMirkoUljarevićabc


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