Gender Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder on Teacher Ratings of the Restricted Behavior Scale-Revised (RBS-R) and the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC)

Friday, May 12, 2017: 5:00 PM-6:30 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
A. M. Lipinski1, J. A. Toomey1 and A. K. Jordan2, (1)The Summit Center, Getzville, NY, (2)Counseling, School, and Educational Psychology, University at Buffalo, SUNY, Buffalo, NY
Background: Though gender differences in the prevalence rates of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are widely known and acknowledged, the gender differences in behavioral manifestations of ASD are less known. Some studies claim no differences in profiles between the genders (Andersson, Gillberg, & Miniscalco, 2013), while others report that females show higher levels of functional social behavior and lower levels of and/or different quality repetitive behaviors (Halladay, Bishop, Constantino, Daniels, Koenig, Palmer, Messinger, Pelphrey, Sanders, Singer, Taylor, & Szatmari, 2015; Mandy, Chilvers, Chowdhury, Salter, Seigal, & Skuse, 2012). Given the mixed results and the potential implications for screening, diagnosis, and treatment, it is important to investigate gender differences further.

Objectives: The current study was conducted to investigate gender differences measured on the RBS-R and ABC for children with ASD.

Methods: Participants. Teacher ratings on the RBS-R and ABC were collected for 60 children (30 female, 30 male) with ASD. The population was primarily low-functioning based on IQ (mean IQ = 48.97 sd =16.54). Female students were matched with male students based on age, IQ, and ethnicity. Average age across the sample was 10.40 (sd = 3.37).


Measures. The Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC; Aman & Singh, 1986) is a rating scale designed to measure five broad areas of behavior: irritability, lethargy/social withdrawal, stereotypic behavior, hyperactivity/noncompliance, and inappropriate speech. The Repetitive Behaviors Scale – Revised (RBS-R; Bodfish, Symons, Parker, & Lewis, 2000) is a rating scale designed to measure restricted repetitive behavior, a diagnostic feature of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).


Procedures. Teachers completed the RBS-R and ABC as part of a battery of program evaluations collected at the beginning of the school year. Rating forms were scored and entered by research assistants. Data analyses included descriptive statistics, independent samples t-test, and Cohen’s effect size d.

Results: Teacher ratings showed some significant gender differences among children with ASD among the different scales on the RBS-R. On the RBS-R, significant gender differences were found on the restricted behavior subscale (t(56) = 2.38, p = .021, d = 0.61). There were differences found on the subscales of the ABC, but none statistically significant.

Conclusions: Teacher rating on the RBS-R and ABC indicated mixed results regarding gender differences. Similar to prior research, there was some indication of males showing more repetitive behaviors than females with ASD; however, this was only noted on the restricted behavior subscale of the RBS-R (i.e., preoccupation with one subject or activity, attachment to one specific object, preoccupation with parts of objects, and preoccupation with movement). Females and males with ASD seem to have similar symptomatology regarding sameness behavior, ritualistic behavior, compulsive behavior, self-injurious behavior, and stereotyped behavior. Additionally, females and males with ASD tend to show the same levels of irritability, lethargy, stereotypic behavior, and hyperactivity. These results can have implications in the diagnosis and treatment of ASD. Further research is needed in the area of gender differences and level and quality of restricted and repetitive behaviors in children with ASD.