Gray space and green space proximity associated with higher anxiety in youth with autism

Lincoln R. Larson, Brian Barger, Scott Ogletree, Julia Torquati, Steven Rosenberg, Cassandra Johnson Gaither, Jody Marie Bartz, Andrew Gardner, Eric Moody, Anne Schutte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


This study used ZIP code level data on children's health (National Survey of Children's Health, 2012) and land cover (National Land Cover Database, 2011) from across the United States to investigate connections between proximity to green space (tree canopy), gray space (impervious surfaces), and expression of a critical co-morbid condition, anxiety, in three groups of youth: children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD, n = 1501), non-ASD children with special healthcare needs (CSHCN, n = 15,776), and typically developing children (n = 53,650). Both impervious surface coverage and tree canopy coverage increased the risk of severe anxiety in youth with autism, but not CSHCN or typical children. Children with ASD might experience the stress-reducing benefits of nature differently than their typically developing peers. More research using objective diagnostic metrics at finer spatial scales would help to illuminate complex relationships between green space, anxiety, and other co-morbid conditions in youth with ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-102
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Place
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Children
  • Mental health
  • Nature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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