SYMPTOM PRESENTATION AND CLASSROOM FUNCTIONING IN A NONCLINICAL SAMPLE OF CHILDREN WITH SOCIAL PHOBIA


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Abstract

This study investigates symptom presentation and school functioning in a nonclinical sample of children with social phobia (SP). Forty-five children with SP were identified via school-wide screenings and follow-up diagnostic interviews. Analyses examined types and intensity of fears, number of social situations avoided, interpersonal relationships, and classroom functioning. To identify characteristics unique to social phobic children, children with SP (n = 45) were compared to anxious children without SP (n = 56) on the above variables. Comorbidity in children with SP and factors associated with SP severity were also evaluated. Compared to anxious children without SP, children with SP feared and avoided a significantly greater number of social situations. In addition, they were significantly more likely to have trouble with making friends and to prefer being alone rather than with peers. All children with SP met criteria for at least one comorbid disorder. Significant factors explaining child-reported severity of SP were number of social situations avoided and intensity of fears. Greater severity of SP was significantly associated with poorer social skills, poorer leadership skills, greater attention difficulties, and greater learning problems in the classroom. It is important to understand the symptom presentation of SP so that children with SP are identified early and effective interventions are instituted. This is especially critical given the impact of SP on school functioning.

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