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Temperament in Children with Autism Ages 4-7: A Study Using the Inventory of Children's Individual Differences- Short Form

Saturday, 4 May 2013: 09:00-13:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
J. M. Campbell1, B. Barger2 and C. A. Simmons3, (1)University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, (2)The University of Georgia, Athen, GA, (3)University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Background: To date, only a handful of studies have investigated the role of temperament in ASD in children and most have relied on instruments designed to measure constructs from either Thomas and Chess or Mary Rothbart’s temperament theories. Furthermore, few have investigated gender differences within ASD or ASD status X gender temperament interactions.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to determine whether temperament variables measured with the new Inventory of Children’s Individual Differences- Short Form (ICID) differentiate children with ASD from typical children, as well as determine whether ASD status X gender interactions are present in early childhood.

Methods:  Here we report a 2 (ASD  versus typical)* X 2 (Gender) age controlled MANCOVA comparing 139 children with ASD (113 male; 26 female) and 374 control children (190 male; 187 female) between the ages of 4 and 7 (Early Childhood; EC) on the 15 temperament subscales of the ICID. Data from ASD children was collected on-line via the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) and data from typical children was taken from the norming sample data set provided by Dr. Roy Martin.

Results: Pillai’s Trace statistics indicated a trend for significant gender interactions [F(1, 15) = 1.683, p > .05, η2 = .06], significant gender differences [F(1, 15) = 1.742, p < .05], and significant differences between ASD and typical children: [F (15,1) = 39.924, p < .001]. Only significant differences in regards diagnosis and interactions are considered here. Follow up Welsch F tests indicated no significant ASD X gender interactions, but diagnostic group differences were reported favoring lower scores for ASD on achievement [F(1, 438) = 69.42, p < .001], compliance [F(1, 438) = 81.89, p < .001], consideration [F(1, 438) = 251.02, p < .001] , intelligence [F(1, 438) = 27.36, p < .001], openness [F(1, 438) = 27.36, p < .001], positive emotion [F(1, 438) = 41.12, p < .001], and sociability [F(1,438) = 346.12, p < .001]; higher scores for the ASD groups were reported on antagonism [F(1, 438) = 27.66, p < .001], distractible [F(1, 438) = 63.69, p < .001], fear/insecurity [F(1, 438) = 35.54, p < .001], negative emotion (anger) [F(1, 438) = 100.33, p < .001], shy [F(1, 438) = 286.73, p < .001], and strong willed [F(1, 438) = 44.52, p < .001].  No differences were found on activity level [F(1, 438) = 0.61, p = .44] or organized [F(1, 438) = 7.39, p <.01] and no significant gender X ASD diagnostic status interactions were found.

Conclusions: Collectively, these results indicate widespread temperament differences between children with ASD and typically developing children. Furthermore, no gender X ASD diagnosis interactions were reported. The strongest differences were on the variables of sociability and shyness, temperament traits related to the core diagnostic symptoms of ASD.

*This project is funded by a grant from the Organization for Autism Research

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