Predictors of Self-Injurious Behavior and Self-Restraint in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Towards a Hypothesis of Impaired Behavioral Control
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Self-injury is common in autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however few studies have investigated correlates of self-injury or the putative associations with self-restraint. Questionnaire data on self-injury, self-restraint, health conditions, overactivity/impulsivity and repetitive/restricted behavior were collected on 208 children and 216 adults with ASD (mean age = 24.10, range 6–61). Self-injury and self-restraint were frequent and significantly associated in both children (45.7% and 40.9%, p < 0.001) and adults (49.1, and 42.6%, p < 0.001). Severe self-injury was predicted by lower ability, health conditions and overactivity/impulsivity in children (p < 0.001) and repetitive/restricted behavior and overactivity/impulsivity in adults (p < 0.001). These data provide preliminary support for a developmental model of self-injury and self-restraint in which painful health conditions and compromised behavioral control influence the presence and trajectory of self-injury in ASD.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Self-injury Self-restraint Prevalence Impulsivity Pain
This study was funded by Research Autism and Cerebra.
CR contributed to the design of the study, collected and analysed the data and drafted the manuscript. LD contributed to the design of the study and revised the manuscript. CO contributed to the design of the study and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Dr. Caroline Richards declares that she has no conflict of interest. Dr. Louise Davies declares that she has no conflict of interest. Professor Chris Oliver declares that he has no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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