17 answers

Autism/asperger Vs. Anxiety?

My question is that are there any relations between ASD and anxiety? My son was tested for autism becasue he was not very social in his preschool. The result was negative. When his pedi Dr. mentioned anxiety, I felt that was the underline of a lot of his behavior. He has fear of things that he does not know or had never tried before. He turned away from the people he does not know or remain shy with the people he knew. I am just wondering if any relations between ASD and anxiety?
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Not all children with autism have anxiety, nor do all children with anxiety have autism. Although I know they can exist together, they can also exist separately.

My girlfriend's daughter has Asperger's and through her I know that there are many parent-centered Autism/Asperger websites. They'd have a lot of info about what to look for. Just do an internet search.Good luck.

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I think anxiety is often the cause for many things. I'm sure there are commonalities with ASD but it stands to reason that anyone that has ANY issues would also be anxious. Anxiety can be mistaken for ADD too because when you are nervous it is hard to concentrate. Then the child doesn't pay attention and may be labeled ADD.

If you don't already, try preparing your child for any new situations by describing what you think will happen before hand. It may help with the anxiety.

1 mom found this helpful

My son has high-function autism and he does have anxiety issues that you don't necessarily see with other neuro-typical kids in his age group. Not all kids who have anxiety, have autism. Autism is so much more than just being socially akward or -- for lack of a better way of putting it -- a behavior challenged child, or an anxious kid. It's actually a learning disorder where a child doesn't necessarily learn from his natural environment and has to be taught things on a one-on-one basis until if and when they are hopefully able to generalize the skill on their own. Here's the Autism Speaks link about how autism is diagnosed if you care to read it:


If you still have any questions or concerns about your son, please feel free to send me a message and I will be happy to answer whatever questions you may have to the best of my ability.

Wishing all the best for you and your son.

1 mom found this helpful

There are a lot of simularities, particularly early on. We have two children on the spectrum, but our middle child who had OCD and anxiety acted more clasicly autistic than the other two, and she is typcial now (with medication.)

Did you have an evaluation by a Developmental Pediatrician? If not, that would be my suggestion. They do a terrific job of calling in every one you may need so that you walk away from the evaluation will the answer, instead of needing another evaluation. Board certified child psychiatrists can make the call on anxiety if you have seen the developmentalist and had a full evaluation, but it would seem odd to me that a full evaluation would not identify the anxiety as the issue. Was there a psychological portion on his eval?

Our child with anxiety could not do anything new either, so I feel your pain. We finally medicated her when she could not go to kindergarten, and it was night and day. I was totally convinced, and still am, that this was a chemical issue. There is good help out there if it turns out to be anxiety.


1 mom found this helpful

If he does have anxiety the get him on a good natural supplement with extra B vitamins omega 3 oils and calcium. they all calm you down. Does he get enough of the good fats, does he eat enugh of the green vegies. our bodies have to have these things to work well. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I feel that I can speak to this question :) My son was diagnosed with Asperger's at at the age of 5-6. We were never 100% positive he was actually ON the spectrum because he did not exhibit some of the tell-tale signs of autism. However, we used that as our working diagnisis in order to get him services in the school district and continued to search for a more realistic diagnosis for him. As you know, this can sometimes take a long time as the mental health field for children can be tricky. He is now 10 years old and was most recently diagnosed with anxiety/depression, mood disorder and ocd. I do feel that this fits him quite well and we have given in and are now trying an SSRI medication which seems to be working pretty well for him. I do believe that ASD and anxiety can go hand-in-hand, but it is possible for there to be anxiety either alone or co morbid with other issues. I sure hope you find the answer that will best help you get the proper help for your son. It can be quite the process! My best!

My friends daughter was diagnosed with Autism when she was 3 years old. I don't know to much of her story, but she ended up having Select Mutism NOT autisim. Sorry I don't know more about this disorder, but you might want to look into it for your son. Good luck with everything!

My girlfriend's daughter has Asperger's and through her I know that there are many parent-centered Autism/Asperger websites. They'd have a lot of info about what to look for. Just do an internet search.Good luck.

Hi W.,

Stress and anxiety are the leading contributor to behavioral and learning disorders in children and people of all ages. Stess and anxiety cause inflammation in the brain and body, which leads to many of the health challenges we face as a society today.

The answer is in our nutrition. What we eat sets the foundation for how and what we are capable of achieving mentally and physically.

I second what Katie S. posted. You need to supplement his diet with all-natural Omega-3s, Antioxidants, Probiotics, Vitamins B and D and pay attention to what he's eating. You will want to run an allergy test to be sure he's able to absorb his nutrients and getting what he needs to thrive (children with allergies often suffer, because the inflammation caused by allergies make their bodies incapable of accepting needed nutrients).
There are many supplements on the market and in light of the potentially dangerous chemicals found in fish oil, I recommend you do a little research before introducing anything new to his system.

MOXXOR is by far the most effective all-natural Omega-3 and Antioxidant supplement available today. My child is also on the spectrum and I wouldn't give him any other Omega-3 source, simply because he doesn't detoxify and can't handle ANY mercury, PCBs or toxins of any kind. However, he seriously NEEDS the Omega-3s and Antioxidants to stay healthy and reach his highest potential academically and socially.

One other suggestion is to talk with a child development specialist. Tim Healey is a renown child development specialist in the Irvine, CA area, who works with children on the spectrum and specializes in stress and anxiety. He uses calming touch techniques in addition to combining other natural therapeutic approaches in synergy with diet/nutrition, supplementation and any existing medications.

I also highly recommend talking with a Naturopathic Doctor, if you're interested in trying all-natural methods before considering pharmaceutical medications. If you want to talk with an ND who specializes in working with children on the spectrum, then I recommend Dr. Tamara Smith (she's in Santa Monica, CA). You can reach her via email at ____@____.com.

I wish you and your family the best of luck with this and all of life's challenges... enjoy and celebrate the little successes along the way. If you'd like to talk or need more info, send me a message anytime. I'm always happy to help.

-P. (____@____.com)

My first son had a lot of anxiety at that age and improved as he grew. His pediatrician told me that shyness is a normal stage of toddler development and that it's the kids who will talk to anyone that they actually worry about. Now my second son is the one that will talk to anyone! I was fortunate that my son's preschool teacher worked with him to integrate into play groups in the class and by the end of the year he was flourishing. I also got a few numbers of some of the kids in his class and invited them and their moms over for playdates. Keep him active in playgroups and help him interact with other kids on the the playground. Take a big plastic bin of sand toys to the park and all of the kids will flock to him to play. Some kids are simply slow to warm, that's all, nothing more.

Hi W.,
Many children with ASD also suffer from severe anxiety. Temple Grandin has written beautifully about her experience and you might want to look at some of her books. I don't know who tested your son, but the Regional Center is an extremely useful resource for evaluating children on the autism spectrum. Also, UCLA has both a child anxiety center and an autism center. The good news is that there are now increasingly effective treatments for anxiety in children. I don't know what's available around Pomona, but you might call UCLA's child anxiety clinic and see if they have any recommendations for someone nearby. There is likely to be someone who trained in that program who now works around Pomona (given the colleges around there). There are also some good books for helping your child cope with anxiety. Good luck!

Not all children with autism have anxiety, nor do all children with anxiety have autism. Although I know they can exist together, they can also exist separately.

Not that I know of. My very very low functioning sister with autism doesn't show signs of anxiety....hers are more like reptitive behaviours (has to have same routine everyday), only will eat or drink certain things, doesn't like being around people or being touched, still has trouble in school (she's in grade 12, but still mentally like a 3 year old)....i mean, the list goes on. i have social anxiety, so i can see where that stems from. i don't like being around people, even those i know (i prefer mostly just a couple of my sisters and my husband) but i know for a fact i don't have any of the autism spetrum. mines simply anxiety. when i'm able to take xanax, that's for the most part lifted and i don't feel like that around people.

My daughter with Asperger's doesn't have anxiety, but I have heard of a lot of kids with Asperger's who do. Likewise, I'm sure that a child can have anxiety without being on the spectrum.

Sorry if this isn't very helpful.


My son does have Aspergers and anxiety issues are certainly a part of it. Your son could of course have anxiety issues without being on the spectrum too.

For example my son has to ask multiple times every morning if his homework is in his folder and if his folder is in his backpack. He has to have a clock in his bedroom and if he happens to sleep in another room for any reason we have to have a clock visible to him at night. My son freaked out when I rearranged him room one day so everything had to get moved back. Surprisingly, he actually does ok with some social situations that one would expect to totally freak him out, go figure.

Good luck,

The best place I know of for parents to start them off on this is www.tacanow.org

The thing you need to do, IMHO, is look at diet and remove certain things. The second thing is delay /stop any and all vaccines for the time being as you don't need the immune system to go into hyper overdrive right now.

Medication is the last resort unless you have a child who is self injurious (which it sounds like you don't) or hurting others.

Every one is different.
just love your little boy.
he is shy.
ok some people are.

Hi W.,
Having worked extensively with children who are on the Autism Spectrum over the last 8 years, my experience has been that many ASD children have anxiety. Anxiety can be equated to stress about future events. This is a normal phenomenon with children on the spectrum as most future events involve social situations as well as unknown events. This can be the source of anxiety. Talking to your child and reassuring him what will happen, he'll be safe, you'll take care to help him through the situation or his teacher can be trusted are a few reassurances you can give your child. Be careful not to give fear messages. If you are on Facebook, join Asperger's awareness, they have daily forums with people all over the world who are or have children on the spectrum. It may be very helpful.
Lots of luck,

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