Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Challenging behaviors (CBs) are remarkably prevalent in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and can have a number of severe consequences. While it is believed that CBs reach their peak in childhood followed by a general abatement throughout adolescence and adulthood, the exact trend of CBs during childhood is unknown. Furthermore, the impact of changes in autism symptomatology on CBs during childhood has seldom been explored despite a positive correlation between autism symptomatology and CBs having been established. Therefore, the purpose of these studies was to determine where significant differences in both autism symptomatology and CBs occur throughout childhood, and to investigate how changes in the former variable may affect changes in the latter. It was determined that autism symptomatology and CBs both follow quadratic trends throughout childhood, with symptoms increasing over time prior to decreasing in adolescence. However, specific classes of CBs do not demonstrate as much variability. Furthermore, while changes in autism symptomatology do predict changes in overall CBs, this is not true for all classes of CBs, and changes in communication and socialization may not be as influential as believed. The implications of these findings are discussed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Matson, Johnny L.

Included in

Psychology Commons