Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Abigail L. Hogan, Ph.D.

First Reader

Jane E. Roberts, Ph.D.

Second Reader

Jane E. Roberts, Ph.D.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by impairments in social functioning. Furthermore, children with ASD have been found to have high rates of comorbid anxiety. Understanding the relationship between ASD and comorbid anxiety is essential in raising awareness of anxiety symptomology in children with ASD in hopes of better informing treatment and support. The present study examines the relationship between social functioning and general anxiety in children with ASD compared to typically developing (TD) children. The first objective of this study was to examine group differences in social impairments and anxiety symptoms between children diagnosed with ASD and TD children. The second objective was to examine the relationship between the severity of social impairments to the severity of anxiety symptoms. Participants included 46 children diagnosed with ASD and 34 TD children, ranging from 35 to 68 months old. Social impairments were measured using the Social Responsiveness Scale, Second Edition (SRS-2), and general anxiety was measured using the Anxiety, Depression, and Mood Scale (ADAMS). Results from this study suggest children with ASD display more social impairments and experience more symptoms of general anxiety. Additionally, greater social impairments were positively correlated with greater anxiety symptoms in both groups. The findings of this study suggest that the severity of social impairments within ASD may exacerbate symptoms of general anxiety.

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© 2020, Kaylee L Cox