Temperament predicts challenging behavior in children with autism spectrum disorder at age 5 Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2019 Elsevier Ltd Background: Challenging behaviors during early childhood have a significant impact on cognitive and social development. The present study aimed to identify the developmental predictors of these behaviors in preschool aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at 2-year follow-up. We examined temperament, which has been identified as key to emotion regulation in typical development, as well as developmental level and ASD symptom severity, as potential predictors of parent-reported challenging behavior. Method: Forty-three parents of preschool aged children with ASD from a previous study were invited to participate. Data from 26 children with ASD aged 4–6 years (M = 5, SD = .60) were available for follow-up analyses. Developmental level, ASD symptom severity, and temperamental difficulty at baseline were considered as potential predictors of frequency and severity of challenging behavior at follow-up. Results: Baseline negative affectivity was uniquely predictive of frequency of challenging behavior at follow-up. Although no individual variable was identified as a unique predictor of variance, the combined effects of temperament were predictive of the severity of challenging behavior at follow-up, contributing to 46 % of variance in scores. Conclusions: These findings highlight the potential impact of emotion-regulation related aspects of temperament on later emerging challenging behavior in young children with ASD, suggesting opportunities for early intervention. Results also identified a role for developmental level in the severity of challenging behavior, but suggest that the effect may be metered by temperament.

publication date

  • 2020