Objectives: Taking into account the potential for specific interventions that focus on particular contexts related to insistence on sameness and resistance to change (Ollington et al., 2012), the current study explored the roles of affective, sensory and adaptive behavioural responses to such situations.
Methods: Forty-three parents of children aged between two and 13 years of age (mean age = 6.7 years) were recruited as part of a larger study according to either no previous diagnosis (NPD) or a previous diagnosis of ASD. Parents responded to the Behavioural Flexibility Rating Scale-Revised (BFRS-R, Green et al., 2007), the Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales-2ndEd (Vineland-II, Sparrow, Cicchetti, & Balla, 2005), the Aberrant Behaviour Checklist (ABC, Aman & Singh, 1994), and the Short Sensory Profile (SSP, McIntosh, Miller, Shyu, & Dunn, 1999).
Results: Structural Equation Modelling was used to estimate direct versus indirect effects in relation to whether group position (HFA, LFA, NPD) derived from IQ (<85, ≥85) and diagnosis (ASD, NPD) has a direct effect on group identity via the mediating variables (adaptive, affective, sensory) responses on BFRS-R scores. It was found that for both the children with HFA and LFA, insistence on sameness may be mediated by high levels of aberrant behaviour. For children in the LFA group, it also appears that sensory sensitivities and adaptive behaviour may influence behavioural flexibility.
Conclusions: The findings indicate that there may be particular underlying characteristic differences that may differentiate high and low functioning autism in relation to behavioural flexibility that was not able to be determined by total BFRS-R scores alone. More work is required to tease out these effects, for example to particular behaviours represented by these scales with studies using a comprehensive assessment of adaptive, problem and sensory behaviours.
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See more of: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Phenotype