Objectives: This study examined: (1) anxiety and depression symptoms in children with HFASDs compared to matched controls using child self-reports and parent-ratings; and (2) source differences (child vs. parent) within the two condition groups (HFASD vs. control).
Methods: The sample included 40 children ages 7-13 with a HFASD (AD, HFA, or PDD-NOS) and 40 typical-controls matched on age, gender, and ethnicity. Participants in the HFASD group participated in a multiple-gate screening; inclusion criteria included a short-form IQ composite > 70; receptive or expressive language score ≥ 80; and score meeting ASD criteria on the ADI-R. Matched-controls were recruited using flyers.
Symptoms were assessed using the Depression and Anxiety subscales of the Behavior Assessment System for Children 2 – Parent Rating Scales (BASC2-PRS) and Self-Report of Personality (BASC2-SRP).
Results: The two groups did not significantly differ on important demographic variables. A significant between-group multivariate effect was found based on parent reports; follow-up univariate analyses indicated significant between-group differences for both depression (F[1,78] = 34.78, p < .001, d = 1.10) and anxiety (F[1,78] = 13.05, p = .001, d = .75)). No significant multivariate effect was found based on child self-reports. Within-condition source comparisons (parent vs. child) revealed a significant multivariate effect for the HFASD group only, with follow-up univariate analyses indicating significant source-differences for both depression (F[1,78] = 29.07, p < .001, d = 1.04) and anxiety (F[1,78] = 7.01, p = .010, d = .57). Correlations between parent- and child-reports were significant only for depression in the HFASD group (r = .315).
Conclusions: Results indicated significant depression and anxiety symptom elevations for children with HFASDs based on parent ratings. Children with HFASDs reported symptom levels similar to controls. A significant discrepancy was found between parent and child ratings for the HFASD group only, with parent ratings significantly higher for depression and anxiety. A low but significant correlation between parent and child ratings of depression in the HFASD group suggested that the children reported symptoms in a manner that to some degree paralleled parent ratings. Despite this positive association, mean score differences reflected a substantial discrepancy in magnitude of depressive symptoms by rater. Implications will be described.