Characteristics of challenging behaviours in adults with autistic disorder, PDD-NOS, and intellectual disability

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BACKGROUND: Challenging behaviours are frequently a problem for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). A better understanding of which individuals display which behaviours, at what rates, and the relationship of these behaviours to comorbid psychopathology would have important implications. METHOD: A group of 161 adults with ASD (autistic disorder or Pervasive Developmental Disorder--Not Otherwise Specified [PDD-NOS]) and 159 matched controls with ID only residing in two large residential facilities in Southeastern United States, were studied using the Autism Spectrum Disorders--Behavior Problems for Adults (ASD-BPA). RESULTS: In all four categories of challenging behaviour measured by the ASD-BPA (Aggression/Destruction, Stereotypy, Self-Injurious Behavior, and Disruptive Behavior), frequency of challenging behaviours increased with severity of autistic symptoms. The greatest group differences were found for Stereotypy (repeated/unusual vocalisations/body movements and unusual object play), Self-Injurious Behavior (harming self and mouthing/swallowing objects), Aggression/Destruction (banging on objects), and Disruptive Behavior (elopement). CONCLUSIONS: Challenging behaviours in people with ASD and ID are barriers to effective education, training, and social development, and often persist throughout adulthood. Thus, programs designed to remediate such behaviours should continue across the life-span of these individuals.

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Journal of intellectual & developmental disability

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