Anxiety and depression in children and
adolescents with Asperger Syndrome
M. Mary Konstantareas
It has been well documented that many individuals with Asperger Syndrome (AS) suffer from anxiety and depression. Whether AS is distinct from highfunctioning autistic disorder (AD) continues to be debated. Although some have opted against differentiating between the two, others have not (e.g. Schopler, Mesibov, and Kunce 1998). Regardless of this, evidence exists for the presence of anxiety and depression across all autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and not only AS.
The aim of this chapter is to provide a summary of select findings that support the contention that anxiety and mood disorders are frequently seen in children and adolescents with AS. Factors likely to be related to anxiety and depression will then be discussed. Subsequently, findings from a recent study from our laboratory on the presence of anxiety and mood difficulties in a sample of children and adolescents with AS will be presented. The author will draw from her clinical work and research to elaborate further upon relevant issues. Information on likely aetiological factors will then be presented. The chapter will conclude with the implications of the findings and suggestions on how to assist children and youth with AS to combat their anxiety and depression.
Since the first systematic attempts to delineate the characteristics of Early Childhood Psychosis, as AD was referred to at the time, Creak (1961) and the British working party emphasized the presence of anxiety. Criterion six of ten