Resilience is a dynamic process through which people adjust to adversity and buffer anxiety and depression. The COVID-19 global pandemic has introduced a shared source of adversity for people across the world, with detrimental implications for mental health. Despite the pronounced vulnerability of autistic adults to anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, relationships among autism-related quantitative traits, resilience, and mental health outcomes have not been examined. As such, we aimed to describe the relationships between these traits in a sample enriched in autism spectrum-related quantitative traits during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also aimed to investigate the impact of demographic and social factors on these relationships. Across three independent samples of adults, we assessed resilience factors, autism-related quantitative traits, anxiety symptoms, and depression symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. One sample (recruited via the Autism Spectrum Program of Excellence, n = 201) was enriched for autism traits while the other two (recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk, n = 624 and Facebook, n = 929) drew from the general population. We found resilience factors and quantitative autism-related traits to be inversely related, regardless of the resilience measure used. Additionally, we found that resilience factors moderate the relationship between autism-related quantitative traits and depression symptoms such that resilience appears to be protective. Across the neurodiversity spectrum, resilience factors may be targets to improve mental health outcomes. This approach may be especially important during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in its aftermath.
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