Anxiety and interpretation of ambiguity in autistic children, typical children and their mothers

Louise Neil*, Hannah White, Katy Warren, Elizabeth Pellicano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Anxiety is highly prevalent in autistic children. Yet interpretation biases implicated in anxiety in non-autistic individuals have received little research attention in this group. Twenty-two autistic children and 25 typical children completed an ambiguous scenarios interview and questionnaire-based measures of anxiety. A subsample of mothers completed parent-report and adult relevant versions of the interview and anxiety questionnaires. Autistic children self-reported similar interpretations of ambiguous scenarios, and similar levels of anxiety, to their typical peers. In contrast, mothers of autistic children reported greater levels of anxiety, and more negative interpretations of ambiguous scenarios in both their children and themselves, relative to mothers of typical children. These data highlight the importance of including autistic children’s self-reports when measuring and treating anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035–1047
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number3
Early online date8 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • autism
  • child
  • anxiety
  • cognition


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