International Meeting for Autism Research: Temperament Intervention for Problem Behavior In Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Temperament Intervention for Problem Behavior In Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Elizabeth Ballroom E-F and Lirenta Foyer Level 2 (Manchester Grand Hyatt)
10:00 AM
L. Adamek1,2, S. Nichols3 and S. Tetenbaum4, (1)UCSD, San Diego, CA, (2)Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, (3)ASPIRE Center for Learning and Development, Melville, NY, (4)ASPIRE center for learning and development, Melville, NY
Background: Environmental modification is a common intervention for problem behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), however, temperament is rarely considered when implementing this treatment strategy. Within the child development field, a child’s temperament profile is used to redesign the environment to produce a better match with his or her individual characteristics. Children with ASDs who are highly surgent (e.g., active and impulsive) are more likely to engage in problem behavior (Adamek, et al., 2010), and may benefit from temperament based-intervention strategies.

Objectives: The aim of the current study was to evaluate the effectiveness of temperament-based intervention for highly surgent children with ASDs in reducing problem behavior and improving family quality of life.

Methods: Six children ages 3-7, with a diagnosis of ASD, a history of problem behavior and a highly surgent temperament style were included in the study. A multiple baseline design was used and each participant engaged in 3-5 sessions of baseline assessment, 4-6 sessions of intervention implementation, and 12 sessions of post-intervention assessment. Interventions included (1) educating parents about temperament, (2) identifying the child’s temperament profile, and (3) modifying problematic contexts (e.g., dinnertime, grocery store) to make them a better fit for the child’s temperament. Latency to problem behavior and percentage of task components completed were recorded during each session. Pre and post intervention measures included parent-reported frequency and intensity of context-specific problem behavior, global problem behavior, parenting stress, parental locus of control, and disruption of home situations.

Results: All six children who participated showed substantial improvement in latency to problem behavior and task completion within contexts identified by their parents as most problematic. There was evidence of lower frequency of contextual problem behavior, t (5) = 8.00, p < .01, d = 3.13, lower intensity of contextual problem behavior, t (5) = 10.95, p < .01, d = 5.79, and a significant difference in global problem behavior, t (5) = 9.91, p < .01, d = 2.14. Parenting stress, parental locus of control, and disruption of home situations all improved from pre to post-intervention; however, the results were not statistically significant due to the small sample size.

Conclusions: Findings demonstrate that environmental modification strategies that include temperament may reduce problem behavior in children with ASDs. Limitations and recommendations for future research that includes a larger sample and incorporates temperament assessment and goodness-of-fit strategies into comprehensive behavioral interventions for children with ASDs are discussed.

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