Autism, anxiety and school functioning

Success at school is fundamental to the wellbeing and future of all children. However, children on the spectrum may have poor school experiences and outcomes, with their social difficulties and challenging behaviours particularly evident in this setting. Autistic children also commonly experience
high levels of anxiety which are likely to exacerbate social and academic difficulties in the school setting. Surprisingly, there is yet to be a comprehensive investigation of the degree to which reducing anxiety leads to improvements in school functioning.

The first aim of the project was to investigate whether participation in a group anxiety program assisted autistic children to function better at school. As well as substantially reducing anxiety, completing the anxiety program was predicted to lead to gains in school behaviour and better academic outcomes.

The second aim of the project was to examine whether incorporating a teacher component into an anxiety program extended the benefits of the standard program. It was predicted that adding the teacher component would result in greater reduction in anxiety, and better school functioning, relative to the standard anxiety program with no formal involvement of teachers.
Project Leader(s)
  • , University of Western Australia
Project code
2.025RI