The link between parental autistic tendency and anxiety symptoms was studied in 491 Taiwanese couples raising biological children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Parental autistic tendency as measured by Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) was associated with anxiety symptoms across all domains. Large effect sizes were found in social phobia and post traumatic stress disorders for both parents, and in general anxiety disorder and agoraphobia for mothers. These associations were irrespective of child's autistic tendency, spouse's AQ scores and the couples' compatibility in their autistic tendency. Perceived family support and parental education moderated the link but not child's autistic severity. Research and clinical implications regarding psychiatric vulnerability of parents of children with ASD were drawn and discussed.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00494754.