Internalizing Problems, Socialization Issues, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Issues of Children with Autism Born Late Preterm

Thursday, May 17, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
3:00 PM


Background: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by deficits in sociocommunicative ability, cognitive impairments, and restricted interests/repetitive behaviors (American Psychological Association [APA], 2000). Children born late pre-term often exhibit various problem behaviors similar to children with ASD (i.e., inattention/hyperactivity, socialization issues and internalizing problems, socialization ; Hack, Taylor, Schluchter, Andreias, Drotar, & Klein, 2009; Limperopoulos, et al., 2008; McGrath et al., 2005). A majority of research in this area focuses on children born less than 33 weeks gestational age and much less is known about the characteristics of late preterm infants, 34-37 weeks gestational age, particularly within a population of children diagnosed with an ASD. Previous research by Brewton, Dovi, Allain, Keller-Margulis, and Dempsey (2011) looked at cognitive functioning, adaptive functioning, and externalizing behaviors in a population of children with ASD who were born late pre-term versus full-term; the authors did not find any significant relationships with gestational age, but did note an interesting IQ mean trend between children born full-term and late pre-term. However, more research in this area is necessary to determine if other relationships exist.

Objectives: To expand on the study conducted by Brewton, Dovi, Allain, Keller-Margulis, and Dempsey (2011) by investigating possible relationships between populations of late preterm children with ASD and full term children with ASD and their: (a) internalizing problems, (b) socialization issues, and (c) attention deficit/hyperactivity problems. Further understanding of these potential relationships may help characterize varying behavioral profiles of children with ASD.

Methods: Participants include children with ASD from the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC;, which currently contains children (n = 2050) between the ages of 4 and 18 years old. Demographic information will include participant sex, age, and race/ethnicity. A sub-sample of children with ASD who were born late preterm (n = 152; 34 – 36 weeks gestational age) will be pulled from the larger population to compare to the full term population (n = 1898; 37 – 42 weeks gestational age). Internalizing and attention deficit/hyperactivity problems will be assessed through specific domains from the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL; Achenbach & Rescorla, 2009). Socialization issues will be assessed via the CBCL social skills domain and the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales-II (VABS-II; Sparrow, Cicchetti, & Balla, 2005) socialization domain. All data for this project have been previously collected via the SSC.

Results: Appropriate correlations will be run to investigate possible relationships between children with ASD born late preterm and full term in terms of their (a) internalizing problems, (b) socialization issues, and (c) attention deficit/hyperactivity problems.

Conclusions: Understanding the unique deficits faced by children with ASD who are born late pre-term, may help clinicians and researchers further characterize this population and develop tailored interventions and/or support strategies. 

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