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An exploration of how the secondary school experience contributes to elevated anxiety levels for adolescents on the autism spectrum

An exploration of how the secondary school experience contributes to elevated anxiety levels for adolescents on the autism spectrum
An exploration of how the secondary school experience contributes to elevated anxiety levels for adolescents on the autism spectrum
Children and young people on the autism spectrum show elevated anxiety levels in comparison to typically developing peers and those with other special educational needs. However, despite the significant time spent in school, few researchers have focused on how the school environment contributes to elevated anxiety levels in autism. A systematic review of the literature was conducted, exploring causes of anxious affect for autistic adolescents attending mainstream school. Experiences in the school environment that were highlighted as sources of anxiety included adverse noises, the behaviour of others and the social identity of autistic pupils. Additionally, academic pressure, transitions, disliked subjects, homework and handwriting were highlighted as sources of anxiety. Key frameworks of anxiety and autism (Boulter et al., 2014; Wood & Gadow, 2010) were used to understand these findings. An empirical study was also conducted to explore how the secondary school experience contributed to elevated anxiety following the Intolerance of Uncertainty framework of anxiety and autism proposed by Boulter et al. (2014). A school-based sample of 30 autistic adolescents aged 11-14, took part in the study. Parents completed measures of anxiety, sensory processing, autism symptom severity, and teachers completed a measure of social skills. Participants on the autism spectrum completed a measure of the number and types of experiences causing feelings of anxiety in the school social and learning environment. Indirect pathways from sensory sensitivities and social and environmental experiences in school to anxiety symptoms through intolerance of uncertainty were then tested. Findings supported and extended the key framework of anxiety in autism proposed by Boulter et al. (2014), demonstrating significant indirect pathways from experiences in school, sensory sensitivities and autism traits to anxiety through intolerance of uncertainty.
University of Southampton
Hayes, Eleanor
b9762133-48a5-438b-b840-3ee86aaa891b
Hayes, Eleanor
b9762133-48a5-438b-b840-3ee86aaa891b
Kovshoff, Hanna
82c321ee-d151-40c5-8dde-281af59f2142
Hadwin, Julie
a364caf0-405a-42f3-a04c-4864817393ee

Hayes, Eleanor (2019) An exploration of how the secondary school experience contributes to elevated anxiety levels for adolescents on the autism spectrum. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 123pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Children and young people on the autism spectrum show elevated anxiety levels in comparison to typically developing peers and those with other special educational needs. However, despite the significant time spent in school, few researchers have focused on how the school environment contributes to elevated anxiety levels in autism. A systematic review of the literature was conducted, exploring causes of anxious affect for autistic adolescents attending mainstream school. Experiences in the school environment that were highlighted as sources of anxiety included adverse noises, the behaviour of others and the social identity of autistic pupils. Additionally, academic pressure, transitions, disliked subjects, homework and handwriting were highlighted as sources of anxiety. Key frameworks of anxiety and autism (Boulter et al., 2014; Wood & Gadow, 2010) were used to understand these findings. An empirical study was also conducted to explore how the secondary school experience contributed to elevated anxiety following the Intolerance of Uncertainty framework of anxiety and autism proposed by Boulter et al. (2014). A school-based sample of 30 autistic adolescents aged 11-14, took part in the study. Parents completed measures of anxiety, sensory processing, autism symptom severity, and teachers completed a measure of social skills. Participants on the autism spectrum completed a measure of the number and types of experiences causing feelings of anxiety in the school social and learning environment. Indirect pathways from sensory sensitivities and social and environmental experiences in school to anxiety symptoms through intolerance of uncertainty were then tested. Findings supported and extended the key framework of anxiety in autism proposed by Boulter et al. (2014), demonstrating significant indirect pathways from experiences in school, sensory sensitivities and autism traits to anxiety through intolerance of uncertainty.

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An exploration of how the secondary school experience contributes to elevated anxiety levels for adolescents on the autism spectrum - Version of Record
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More information

Published date: June 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 431109
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/431109
PURE UUID: c0ad9176-a7e0-4185-98cf-a70ae2b61a77
ORCID for Hanna Kovshoff: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6041-0376

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 23 May 2019 16:30
Last modified: 22 Nov 2021 07:23

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Contributors

Author: Eleanor Hayes
Thesis advisor: Hanna Kovshoff ORCID iD
Thesis advisor: Julie Hadwin

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