Differences in Emotional Self-Regulation within ASD, ADHD and Typically Developing Populations

Saturday, May 19, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
11:00 AM
A. T. Dovi, E. Allain, C. M. Brewton and G. T. Schanding, School Psychology, University of Houston, Houston, TX
Background: Deficits in emotional self-regulation (i.e., the ability to control one’s emotions), is characterized by the inability to control physiological processes typically triggered by strong emotional experiences (Spencer et al., 2011).  Previous research suggests that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) often lack motor planning and flexibility skills whereas individuals with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) suffer from inhibition impairment (Sinzig et al., 2008).  While past research recognizes these specific deficits as potential emotional self-regulation difficulties, research comparing the potential differences in emotional self-regulation between ASD, ADHD, and typically developing populations is lacking.  Furthermore, research indicates that child factors, such as age, gender, and IQ influence the development of emotional self-regulation (Althoff et al., 2010).  Therefore, the current study will aim to investigate the impact these factors may have on the emotional self-regulation of children across all three groups.

Objectives: The current study aims to investigate: (a) potential differences in emotional self-regulation between ASD, ADHD, and typically developing populations and (b) the possible influence that gender, IQ, and age may have on emotional self-regulation of children in all three populations.  

Methods: Participants will include children with ASD and ADHD from the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC), which contains children ages 4 to 18 years old.  Children with ASD have received clinical diagnoses through administrations of the Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised (ADI-R; Rutter, et al,. 2009) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS; Lord, et al., 2000). The SSC also includes data on typically developing siblings of the children with ASD. From the sibling population, a subset of children with ADHD diagnoses and a subset of siblings without ADHD, who are otherwise typically developing, will be pulled for analyses.  Emotional self-regulation will be measured by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach, 1991) Post-Traumatic Stress Problems domain (PTSP; Althoff et al., 2010), Cognitive ability (i.e., verbal, non-verbal, and full-scale IQ) will be assessed through either the: (a) Differential Ability Scales – Second Edition (DAS-II; Elliott, 2007), (b) Mullen Scales of Early Learning (Mullen; 1995), (c) the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV; Wechsler, 2003), or the (d) Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI; Wechsler, 1999). Demographic information on all three groups will include age, gender, and race/ethnicity. 

Results: An ANCOVA will be run to assess the differences in the emotional self-regulation of participants between the groups of youth with ASD, ADHD and those who are typically developing.  

Conclusions: Findings from the current study may further knowledge regarding emotional self-regulation patterns across different populations.  Such knowledge may contribute to the early identification of emotional self-regulation problems and may help determine the degree a child’s need for intervention.

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