Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are among the most serious and debilitating conditions with onset in early childhood. Deficits in social interaction skills are considered to be the hallmark set of symptoms and are given the most weight in current diagnostic systems. Although not considered among the core symptoms of ASD, challenging behaviors in the form of physical aggression, property destruction, and self-injury also commonly occur. Challenging behaviors of this nature are a salient feature of ASD because of their potential to cause harm to self and others as well as limit a child’s access to opportunities in community and academic settings. However, at this point little is known about the relationship between these two variables. In the present study, the relationship between social skills and challenging behavior in children with ASD was explored through a series of correlational and regression analyses. In Study 1, it was demonstrated that this relationship was stronger for children with ASD than typically developing controls and that measures of social skills could significantly predict variance in measures of challenging behavior. This relationship was explored in further detail for the ASD group in Study 2, where it was determined that the social skills deficits/excesses exhibited by these children predicted variance in challenging behavior above and beyond that of ASD symptom severity, most notably with regard to repetitive, self-injurious, and overall levels of challenging behaviors. 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



Included in

Psychology Commons