Many children with autism spectrum disorder display challenging behaviors. These behaviors are not limited to those with cognitive and/or language impairments. The Collaborative and Proactive Solutions framework proposes that challenging behaviors result from an incompatibility between environmental demands and a child's "lagging skills." The primary Collaborative and Proactive Solutions lagging skills-executive function, emotion regulation, language, and social skills-are often areas of weakness for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether these lagging skills are associated with challenging behaviors in youth with autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disability. Parents of 182 youth with autism spectrum disorder (6-15 years) completed measures of their children's challenging behaviors, executive function, language, emotion regulation, and social skills. We tested whether the Collaborative and Proactive Solutions lagging skills predicted challenging behaviors using multiple linear regression. The Collaborative and Proactive Solutions lagging skills explained significant variance in participants' challenging behaviors. The Depression (emotion regulation), Inhibit (executive function), and Sameness (executive function) scales emerged as significant predictors. Impairments in emotion regulation and executive function may contribute substantially to aggressive and oppositional behaviors in school-age youth with autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disability. Treatment for challenging behaviors in this group may consider targeting the incompatibility between environmental demands and a child's lagging skills.
Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; challenging behaviors; cognitive–behavioral treatment; emotion regulation; executive function.