International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): REPETITIVE BEHAVIORS IN AUTISM: ASSOCIATED SKILLS AND BEHAVIORS


Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
K. C. Dominick , Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
H. Tager-Flusberg , Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
Background: Autism is characterized by varying levels of social and communicative impairment as well as repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. Several factors have been related to the expression of repetitive behaviors in both children with mental retardation and children with autism spectrum disorders including age, IQ, language ability, adaptive behavior, the severity of social communicative symptoms, sensory processing and anxiety.

Objectives: To examine the relationship between repetitive behaviors and other relevant behaviors and symptoms. In addition, we explore the relationship of different types of repetitive behaviors to one other.

Methods: The severity of repetitive behaviors was measured using the Repetitive Behavior Scale – Revised, which allows for careful measurement of six subtypes of repetitive behaviors: stereotyped behavior, self-injurious behavior, compulsive behavior, ritualistic behavior, sameness behavior, and restricted behavior. The total severity of repetitive behavior and the severity of each subscale were examined in relation to age, IQ, language, adaptive behaviors, sensory processing, social behavior and anxiety using the DAS/KBIT/WASI, PPVT, EVT, Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Baranek Sensory Supplement, Dunn Short Sensory Profile, Social Reciprocity Scale and the Beck Anxiety Inventory.

Results: Preliminary analysis shows a significant relationship between the severity of repetitive behaviors and sensory processing (rs(95)=.59, p<.0001) as well as social deficits (rs(88)=.48, p<.0001). All subscale behaviors were related to sensory processing and all but self-injurious behavior were related to social deficits. Self-injury was related to anxiety symptoms (rs(50)=.31, p=.028).

Conclusions: These results indicate that the total severity of repetitive behaviors is related to both sensory processing and social skills. However, when the construct is further divided into independent subscales we see that some behaviors show a different pattern of relationships. Self-injurious behavior was only related to sensory processing and was unique in its relationship to anxiety.