This study is important as it aims to better understand the impact of anxiety for adolescent ASD females, who are currently understudied and often experience diagnostic delays. Additionally, it examines the intersectionality of ASD, sex and gender and its impact on anxiety during this pivotal period of development.
What are the goals of the study?
This study aims to better understand the interplay between sex, gender and ASD. Specifically, it will examine the experiences of ASD females with a focus on the presence and impact of anxiety in adolescence. ASD females are at elevated risk, especially during the transitional period of adolescence where ASD youth report increased rates of bullying and rejection, potentially contributing to co-occurring conditions such as depression, anxiety and suicidality.
What will happen during the visit or online?
Participants will complete diagnostic assessments, self-report tools, social and non-social stress tests and optional eye tracking paradigms. During the assessment, heart rate data will be collected with Actiheart Heart Rate and Activity Data Loggers. Caregivers will complete measures of ASD symptomatology, gender-role development, pubertal status and anxiety.
How will this help families?
This study aims to help families affected by autism, particularly female adolescents, with a goal to better characterize bio-behavioral markers of anxiety in ASD females. Adolescents with ASD have been reported to experience higher levels of bullying and rejection from peers which can lead to increased rates of depression, anxiety and suicidality. ASD females are particularly vulnerable to anxiety and therefore increased research is needed to better understand their experiences and the role of biological sex, gender and symptomatology in predicting anxiety.