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Anxiety in Relation to Narrative Deficits in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Alajmi, L. (2020) Anxiety in Relation to Narrative Deficits in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00104398


Children with Autism are known to present with language delays that affect their ability to relate their thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions to others. These difficulties in turn reduce their chances in having successful interactions with their peers and may result in elevated anxiety. The main aim of this thesis is to explore the relationship between narrative skills and anxiety in children with Autism. Three studies were conducted, the first sought to confirm the narrative differences between 19 children with ASD and 20 children who are TD on narrative generation production. Results indicate that children with ASD use fewer story grammar elements, have more difficulty with referential accuracy and deviate more form the main story line by adding irrelevant information. Using data from the same groups, the second study evaluated whether the above three narrative measures are correlated to parent-reported anxiety and whether they may be used to predict anxiety. Collectively, having poorer language skills, poorer SG and RA scores, and increased deviation all indicate a child is more likely to experience anxiety. Results also show that AQ, deviation and the interaction variable between AQ and deviation, are significant predictors of anxiety, explaining the variance seen in parent-reported anxiety. The final study involved 3 children with ASD participating in a narrative intervention to determine whether improving narrative abilities would result in an improvement of theory of mind skills and a reduction in anxiety symptoms. The intervention was successful in improving narrative generation performance which coincided with an improvement on social cognitive tasks and a reduction in parent-reported anxiety post intervention. These results support a link between narrative abilities and the presentation of anxiety symptoms in individuals with autism that may be explained by deficits in neurocognitive functioning. The findings also have clinical implications towards improving assessment and treatment protocols by way of language for people with ASD and comorbid anxiety disorders.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Loucas, T. and Knott, F.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:104398


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