Exploring the overlap, assessment and treatment of anxiety, trauma and autism spectrum disorder.

We have a variety of exciting new research projects going on in our lab all at difference stages of completion. This work includes a just completed clinical trial comparing the efficacy of standard versus modular cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders in children with ASD. This study will be the first to examine how both traditional anxiety disorders and more distinctive fears and phobias, such as unusual phobias, fear of social interaction and fears of change, respond to different formats of CBT –a standard delivery and an expanded CBT program specifically designed for ASD.

ASAP received funding from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in the United States to examine the emergence of traditional and distinctive anxiety disorders in preschoolers with ASD. This collaboration with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger aims to characterize the rate and presentation of anxiety disorders in a younger age group than has previously been studied in order to better understand the emergence of these disorders in ASD and develop novel prevention efforts.

In addition to this work in anxiety disorders, we also have several projects focused on better characterizing, measuring and understanding the impact of childhood adversity and traumatic stress on individuals with ASD. Prior NIH funded has supported the development and initial testing of a new measure of adversity and traumatic stress in ASD, designed to capture the diverse array of experiences that may be traumatic for individuals with ASD and also better differentiate ASD and traumatic stress symptoms.