Lagging Skills May Be Behind Challenging Behaviors in Children with Autism

Published on

In school-aged children with autism, oppositional or aggressive behaviors, also known as “challenging behaviors,” are among the most common difficulties reported by parents and teachers. Challenging behaviors can include hitting, teasing, and other types of physical and verbal aggression, as well as oppositionality, such as defiance, stubbornness or argumentativeness. These behaviors can result in mounting levels of frustration and stress for family members, teachers and classmates as well as for the child with autism .

In a recent study led by Brenna Maddox, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Mental Health Policy Services Research, and Benjamin Yerys, PhD, a child psychologist in the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), suggests challenging behaviors may arise when children lack certain skills required to cope with a problem or situation in an adaptive manner. Their study showed that children with autism who had more impaired executive function (time management, focusing attention, multitasking and behavior control) and emotion regulation skills displayed higher levels of challenging behaviors.

Read more about this work from the Center for Autism Research.