The experience and impact of anxiety in autistic adults: A thematic analysis

Ashley Robertson, Andrew Stanfield, Jane Watt, Fiona Barry, Matthew Day, Magnus Cormack, Craig Melville

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37 Citations (Scopus)
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A high proportion of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) also meet criteria for anxiety disorders. Few studies have explored the experience and impact of anxiety in autistic adults using qualitative methods.

Seventeen semi-structured interviews with either autistic adults (n = 10) or the supporters of adults with a diagnosis of ASD (n = 7) were conducted. The data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Three main themes were identified: ‘contributing and mitigating factors to anxiety’, ‘consequences of anxiety’, and ‘management of anxiety’.

Findings highlighted the role that uncertainty plays in anxiety in autism, supporting existing theoretical accounts. Implications for clinical practice were discussed. These included ensuring that communication differences are minimised, and highlighting the importance of meaningfully including autistic people throughout the development and evaluation process of interventions for mental health.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-18
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Early online date27 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety
  • Thematic analysis
  • Qualitative
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Mental ill health


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