Differences in Challenging Behaviors Between Children with High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Disorder
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- Kozlowski, A.M., Matson, J.L. & Sipes, M. J Dev Phys Disabil (2012) 24: 359. doi:10.1007/s10882-012-9275-3
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A longstanding debate has existed as to whether High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s Disorder are dimensional versus distinct disorders. The impending changes to the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders have rejuvenated this debate as the autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are scheduled to be collapsed into one diagnosis. Challenging behaviors are prevalent within ASD but have seldom been examined with respect to differences between these groups. As such, the purpose of the current investigation was to examine challenging behavior differences between children with HFA, Asperger’s Disorder, and typical development, as well as the ability of verbal communication impairments to predict the presence of these challenging behaviors. Participants were 185 children ages 4 through 16 years who had been diagnosed with Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, or typical development and who did not have comorbid intellectual disability. Their overall scores on the Autism Spectrum Disorder-Behavior Problems for Children were compared as were their individual behavior item scores. Children with HFA demonstrated the greatest amount of challenging behaviors in comparison to children with Asperger’s Disorder; however, these differences were not evident with respect to individual behavior items. Verbal communication deficits differed in a similar fashion, and verbal communication deficits were able to reliably predict the presence of challenging behaviors. The implications of these findings are discussed.