Autistic Cognition: Charting Routes to Anxiety

Eloise Stark*, James Stacey, Will Mandy, Morten L. Kringelbach, Francesca Happé

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Autism Spectrum Conditions are typified by a divergence in cognitive style from that of the non-autistic population. Cognitive differences in autism may underlie significant strengths, but also increase vulnerability to psychopathology such as anxiety, which is a major problem for many autistic people. Many autistic people also do not respond to typical psychotherapeutic interventions, suggesting that autism-specific models and interventions are needed. We advance a theoretical model explaining how three constructs, attenuated predictions, intolerance of uncertainty, and ‘black and white thinking’, may interact to lead to anxiety in autism. We hope to start a dialogue surrounding how we can best address specific autistic cognitive differences that may lead to distress by developing appropriate models, measurements, and psychotherapeutic interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-581
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • anxiety
  • autism
  • black and white thinking
  • cognition
  • intolerance of uncertainty
  • predictive processing


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