Exploring Relationships Between Negative Cognitions and Anxiety Symptoms in Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Amy Keefer, Nicole L. Kreiser, Vini Singh, Audrey Blakeley-Smith, Judy Reaven, Roma A Vasa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Although cognitions are central to the conceptualization and treatment of anxiety in typically developing (TD) youth, there is scant research investigating automatic thoughts and their relationship with anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We sought to examine the types of automatic thoughts experienced by youth with ASD and co-occurring anxiety as well as the predictive relationship of anxiety to different types of automatic thoughts in 97 children, ages 8-14 years. We also explored the relationship of automatic thoughts and intolerance of uncertainty. Consistent with prior data, there was a strong relationship between anxiety and automatic thoughts pertaining to social and physical threat. Anxiety and IU were independently associated with thoughts pertaining to personal failure which raises the hypothesis that personal failure may serve as a common pathway between anxiety, IU, and depression in ASD youth. These findings highlight the importance of assessing and treating negative cognitions in youth with ASD and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBehavior Therapy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Anxiety
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Automatic thoughts
  • Intolerance of uncertainty
  • Negative cognitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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