Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Challenging behaviors including aggression, property destruction, stereotypy, and self injury occur at a high prevalence in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These behaviors are pervasive and chronic. Despite an increased probability and negative consequences, one area which has received little attention is the presence of challenging behaviors in infants and toddlers with ASD. Furthermore, there is a dearth of information identifying early age trends in the emergence of challenging behaviors and associated risk factors. The purpose of this investigation was to utilize a validated measure, the Baby and Infant Screen for Children with aUtIsm Traits - Part 3, to investigate the relationship of challenging behaviors to ASD in the very young child. In Study 1, it was demonstrated that infants and toddlers with ASD do evince more severe behavior symptoms than atypically developing non-ASD toddlers. A general increasing trend of severity of challenging behavior in infants and toddlers with ASD was noted to occur across age cohorts. Study 2 further investigated this relation in detail for the ASD group, where it was determined that there was a cluster of personal characteristics which appear to increase the risk of the young child with ASD engaging in higher rates of problem behavior. Risk factors which were found to be the most salient predictors of severe challenging behaviors included symptoms of comorbid mental illness (e.g., tantrums, conduct problems, anxiety, avoidance, inattention, and impulsivity), more severe autistic symptoms, and areas of developmental functioning. Implications of the results and directions for future research are discussed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Matson, Johnny L.



Included in

Psychology Commons