Problem Behaviors in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Association with Verbal Ability and Adapting/Coping Skills

J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Nov;48(11):3668-3677. doi: 10.1007/s10803-017-3179-0.


Data from the Autism Inpatient Collection was used to examine the relationship between problem behaviors and verbal ability, which have generally, though not universally, been highly associated. In a comparison of 169 minimally-verbal and 177 fluently-verbal 4 to 20-year-old psychiatric inpatients with ASD, the severity of self-injurious behavior, stereotyped behavior, and irritability (including aggression and tantrums) did not significantly differ, when controlling for age and NVIQ. Verbal ability was not strongly related to the severity of problem behaviors. However, lower adapting/coping scores were significantly associated with increasing severity of each type of problem behavior, even when accounting for verbal ability. Interventions to develop adapting/coping mechanisms may be important for mitigation of problem behaviors across the spectrum of individuals with ASD.

Keywords: Autism inpatient collection (AIC); Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); Challenging behavior; Communication; Coping skills; Psychiatric inpatients.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development*
  • Male
  • Problem Behavior*
  • Young Adult