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Factor Structure of Repetitive Behaviors Across Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Abstract

Restricted interests and repetitive behaviors (RRBs) are core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and commonly occur in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Little is known about how RRBs manifest in ADHD. We quantified and compared factor structures of RRBs in children with ASD (n = 634) or ADHD (n = 448), and related factors to sex and IQ. A four-factor solution emerged, including Stereotypy, Self-Injury, Compulsions, and Ritualistic/Sameness. Factor structures were equivalent across diagnoses, though symptoms were more severe in ASD. IQ negatively correlated with Stereotypy, Self-Injury, and Compulsions in ASD, and negatively correlated with Compulsions and Ritualistic/Sameness behaviors in ADHD. In ASD only, females exhibited higher Self-Injury. Thus, patterns of RRBs are preserved across ASD and ADHD, but severity and relationship with IQ differed.

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Fig. 1

Abbreviations

ASD:

Autism spectrum disorder

ADHD:

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder

EFA:

Exploratory factor analysis

RRBs:

Restricted and repetitive behaviors

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Acknowledgments

RS is funded by an NSERC Discovery Grant (RGPIN-2017-04656), a SSHRC Insight Grant (435-2017-0936), the University of Western Ontario Faculty Development Research Fund, the province of Ontario Early Researcher Award, and a Canadian Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Fund (37497).

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Authors NB, CM, and RS conceived of and designed the analysis. Authors EK, EA, RN, SG, JC, RS, and XL collected the data. Authors NB, CM, and RS contributed data or analysis tools. Authors NB and CM performed the analysis. Author NB wrote the first draft, all authors edited.

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Correspondence to Noah J. Brierley.

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Brierley, N.J., McDonnell, C.G., Parks, K.M.A. et al. Factor Structure of Repetitive Behaviors Across Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 51, 3391–3400 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04800-0

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Factor analysis
  • Restricted and repetitive behaviors