The validity of using self-reports to assess emotion regulation abilities in adults with autism spectrum disorder

Eur Psychiatry. 2005 May;20(3):291-8. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2004.06.013.


Purpose: The current paper focused on the validity of using self-reports to assess emotion regulation abilities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). To assess this we sought responses to two alexithymia self-reports and a depression self-report at two time points from adults with and without ASD.

Materials and methods: An initial sample of 27 adults with ASD and 35 normal adults completed the 20-item Toronto alexithymia scale (TAS-20), the Bermond and Vorst alexithymia questionnaire-form B (BVAQ-B), and the Beck depression inventory (BDI), at test time 1. Of these individuals, 19 ASD and 29 controls participated again after a period ranging from 4 to 12 months.

Results: ASD participants were able to report about their own emotions using self-reports. BVAQ-B showed reasonable convergent validity and test-retest reliability in both groups. Scores on both alexithymia scales were stable across the two participant groups. However, results revealed that although the TAS-20 total score discriminated between the two groups at both time points, the BVAQ-B total score did not. Moreover, the TAS-20 showed stronger test-retest reliability than the BVAQ-B.

Conclusion: ASD participants appeared more depressed and more alexithymic than the controls. The use of the BVAQ-B, as an additional assessment of alexithymia, indicated that ASD patients have a specific type of alexithymia characterised by increased difficulties in the cognitive domain rather than the affective aspects of alexithymia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Affective Symptoms / diagnosis*
  • Affective Symptoms / epidemiology*
  • Asperger Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*