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Social anxiety in adults with autism: a qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Debbie Spain, Esra Zıvralı Yarar, Francesca Happé

Original languageEnglish
Article number1803669
JournalInternational journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

King's Authors


Purpose: Many individuals with autism experience social anxiety (SA), yet, to date, this has almost exclusively been investigated using quantitative research methods. We know very little about why individuals with autism perceive they develop SA, what they view the impact and consequences of symptoms to be, and which coping strategies they find helpful. Methods: Using a qualitative study design, six men with autism (aged 23–52 years old) participated in individual semi-structured interviews. Data were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Results: Seven overarching themes were identified: (1) causal influences for SA; (2) anxiety-provoking social situations; (3) symptoms of SA; (4) chronicity; (5) coping; (6) impact; and (7) interventions. Conclusions: Further studies are needed to more fully establish why individuals with autism are vulnerable to developing SA, to inform development of targeted interventions.

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