Parental Anxiety and Family Functioning: A Comparison between Children with ASD and Comorbid Anxiety Disorders, Children with Anxiety Disorders, and Typically Developing Children

Poster Presentation
Thursday, May 10, 2018: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
F. van Steensel1 and S. M. Bögels2, (1)University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, (2)Research Institute of Child Development and Education, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Background: Anxiety disorders in children with ASD are commonly observed. It is however less clear which factors are related to the anxiety presentation in children with ASD. To date, little consideration is given to the association between anxiety and family factors (like parental anxiety and family functioning – which have found to be associated with child anxiety in typically developing and clinical samples using children with anxiety disorders).

Objectives: This study's aim was to examine parents' anxiety and the family functioning.

Methods: Families of children with (1) Autism Spectrum Disorder and anxiety disorders (ASD+AD; N = 80), (2) anxiety disorders (AD; N = 108) and (3) typically developing children (controls; N = 90) completed questionnaires.

Results: Parents’ odds of having clinical anxiety levels was 3.5 times higher when their child had AD, and fathers’ risk was further increased when their child also had ASD. AD was associated with lower family relationship scores and ASD further lowered this score, while only ASD was associated with elevated family system maintenance scores.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that having a child with (ASD+)AD co-occurs with parental health and family functioning problems, but the direction of this relationship remains to be examined.