Anxiety is a term used for the most common group of psychological/behavioral problems affecting mankind. These problems are so prevalent in typically developing persons that they could plausibly be thought of as the psychological equivalent of fever. Pertinent to this presentation, these problems are even more prevalent in persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) than in typically developing persons. One obstacle to clinical progress is the term anxiety itself. It is a hypothetical term that has never been adequately defined. For example, the most authoritative book on anxiety disorders does not even attempt a definition for the first 100 pages and the one then offered is a long paragraph that itself includes a number of undefined terms. Nonetheless, a number of effective treatments have been developed. Although better understanding of term and the phenomena to which it refers would advance treatment even more, the purpose of this talk is merely to describe what is currently known. For example virtually all of the problem behaviors associated with anxiety involve either avoidance or escape. And virtually all of the effective treatments involve approach or exposure. This talk will discuss anxiety in straightforward terms, illuminate the extent to which it affects virtually everyone to a certain degree and more to the point of the conference, the extent to which it affects persons with ASD even more. It will also discuss treatment both in terms of experimental study and clinical application. Finally, because the research on treatment of anxiety in persons with ASD is so limited, the talk will extrapolate from the abundant literature on treatment of anxiety in typically developing persons.
August 6 – 9, 2018
The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center
State College, Pennsylvania