Diametrically opposed associations between academic achievement and social anxiety among university students with and without autism spectrum disorder

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10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research findings indicate that anxiety, social anxiety in particular, is the most common experience reported by individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) attending postsecondary education. Among students without ASD, higher levels of social anxiety have been postulated to correlate with impaired academic achievement; restriction of one's social network because of anxiety is thought to lead to reduction of access to resources important for learning such as social/emotional support and collaborative learning. However, despite growing interest in the outcomes of young students with ASD, no research has studied the associations between academic achievement and anxiety among students with ASD. This study examined the association between social anxiety and grade point average (GPA) among university students: 55 diagnosed with ASD, 31 without ASD but high levels of social anxiety, and 25 without ASD and with low levels of social anxiety (controls). GPAs were significantly lower for the ASD group than for the two non-ASD groups. Among students without ASD, a negative correlation between social anxiety and grades was observed whereas the reverse pattern was found for the ASD group, meaning that for students with ASD, higher levels of social anxiety were associated with higher grades. Additionally, in a regression analysis, ASD diagnosis, social anxiety, and the interaction of group × social anxiety significantly predicted GPA. Possible explanations for this finding, as well as implications for interventions among this population of high-functioning students with ASD, are discussed. Autism Res 2019, 12: 1376–1385.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1376-1385
Number of pages10
JournalAutism Research
Volume12
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019

Keywords

  • ASD
  • academic
  • grade point average
  • social anxiety

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