Assessing Irritability in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Using the Affective Reactivity Index

J Autism Dev Disord. 2021 May;51(5):1496-1507. doi: 10.1007/s10803-020-04627-9.


Irritability is an impairing problem in children with ASD that may be associated with other behavioral and emotional concerns. The Affective Reactivity Index (ARI) is a parent-rated measure of irritability widely used in children with mood disorders, however, its utility in children with ASD remains unclear. In this study, we examined ARI parent ratings in children with ASD and contributions of parent-rated anxiety and noncompliance to irritability measured by the ARI. Participants included 81 children with ASD, aged 8-16 years. Results suggest that both anxiety and noncompliance contribute to irritability, but that anxiety only contributes to irritability in the absence of noncompliance. Further, the ARI is likely to be a useful measure of irritability in children with ASD.

Keywords: Anxiety; Autism spectrum disorder; Irritability; Noncompliance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Affective Symptoms / diagnosis*
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology*
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Mood / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires