The Prevalence of Anxiety and Mood Problems among Children with Autism and Asperger Syndrome
The objective of this study was to report on the prevalence and correlates of anxiety and mood problems among 9- to 14- year-old children with Asperger syndrome (AS) and high-functioning autism. Children who received a diagnosis of autism (n 40) or AS (n 19) on a diagnostic interview when they were 4 to 6 years of age were administered a battery of cognitive and behavioural measures. Families were contacted roughly 6 years later (at mean age of 12 years) and assessed for evidence of psychiatric problems including mood and anxiety disorders. Compared with a sample of 1751 community children, AS and autistic children demonstrated a greater rate of anxiety and depression problems. These problems had a significant impact on their overall adaptation. There were, however, no differences in the number of anxiety and mood problems between the AS and autistic children within this high-functioning cohort. The number of psychiatric problems was not correlated with early autistic symptoms but was predicted to a small extent by early verbal/non-verbal IQ discrepancy scores. These data indicate that high-functioning PDD children are at greater risk for mood and anxiety problems than the general population but the correlates and risk factors for these comorbid problems remain unclear.