Parental Intrusiveness and Separation Anxiety in Children with High Functioning Autism: Associations and Changes Due to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been identified in approximately one out of 68 children, with many individuals experiencing increased levels of anxiety (Bellini, 2004; CDC, 2014; Kuusikko et al., 2008). One factor associated with anxiety in neurotypical children and adolescents is an intrusive parenting style. The study sought to examine the relationship between parental intrusiveness (PI) and separation anxiety in children with high-functioning autism (HFA) as well as whether changes in PI over the course of a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety predict child separation anxiety severity post-treatment. Analyses were conducted for 36 children (27 male), aged seven to 11, in the greater Los Angeles area. Correlational analyses revealed a significant relationship between parent-reported PI and independently rated child separation anxiety severity. In addition, changes in PI predicted separation anxiety severity post-treatment. These findings illuminate a potential agent of change in separation anxiety severity for children with HFA.