Feasibility of Anxiety Assessment for Children with Minimally-Verbal Autism
Muskett, Ashley Elizabeth
MetadataShow full item record
While it is estimated that 30% of the total Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) population acquire very little or no language (Davis et al., 2011), few studies look at ASD treatment from a mental or emotional health perspective for this minimally verbal (MV) population (Tager-Flusberg and Kasari, 2013). It is well documented that there is a need for anxiety assessment and treatment for children with ASD (White, Oswald, Ollendick and Scahill, 2009). This study examined the feasibility of implementing an observational anxiety assessment and concurrent physiological data collection for children with MV-ASD. It was hypothesized that this measure would demonstrate adequate demand, acceptability, and feasibility to merit further study of the measure. Participants consisted of 12 children with MV-ASD and one parent. Each family visited the clinic for one three-hour visit during which the parent completed several questionnaires to assess the child's eligibility for the study as well as their current functioning. Children completed several clinician-administered assessments and observations. The results of this study suggest that this observational assessment protocol is acceptable and practical per parents self-report and the amount of children able to complete the study protocol, but there may not be enough demand for such a measure based on the number of interested participants. Additionally, the concurrent collection of physiological data was not practical in the current sample due to many children scoring too high on a measure of tactile sensitivity to attempt this data collection. Future studies should more carefully assess demand for this kind of assessment, as well as collect more data on the psychometric properties of such as measure.
General Audience Abstract
Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, also experience a lot of anxiety or even an anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, many children with ASD also have a lot of difficulty learning to talk. When children with ASD can't speak to tell people how they are feeling it can make the diagnosis of anxiety really difficult. This project sought to use physical signs such as heart rate in combination with observing behaviors related to anxiety to see if we could better measure anxiety in children with ASD who can't talk. This was a feasibility study meaning that the goal of this project was just to see if the anxiety assessment process was possible and practical for these children to complete. 12 children with ASD and one of their parents participated in the study. They came to the clinic for three hours and completed some anxiety measures given by a clinician and some questionnaires. Our results suggested that some aspects of the anxiety assessment process are possible and helpful, such as the number of children who were able to complete the assessment process, but others aspects need more work before they are helpful, such as the collection of heart rate.
- Doctoral Dissertations