Title page for ETD etd-06272011-205203

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Fodstad, Jill Cherie
Author's Email Address jwil157@lsu.edu
URN etd-06272011-205203
Title The Emergence of Challenging Behaviors in At-Risk Toddlers with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Cross-sectional and Risk Factor Study
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Matson, Johnny L. Committee Chair
Davis III, Thompson E. Committee Member
Gouvier, Wm. Drew Committee Member
Rizzuto, Tracey E. Committee Member
Oetting, Janna B. Dean's Representative
  • challenging behaviors
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • toddlers
Date of Defense 2011-06-07
Availability unrestricted
Challenging behaviors including aggression, property destruction, stereotypy, and self injury occur at a high prevalence in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These behaviors are pervasive and chronic. Despite an increased probability and negative consequences, one area which has received little attention is the presence of challenging behaviors in infants and toddlers with ASD. Furthermore, there is a dearth of information identifying early age trends in the emergence of challenging behaviors and associated risk factors. The purpose of this investigation was to utilize a validated measure, the Baby and Infant Screen for Children with aUtIsm Traits - Part 3, to investigate the relationship of challenging behaviors to ASD in the very young child. In Study 1, it was demonstrated that infants and toddlers with ASD do evince more severe behavior symptoms than atypically developing non-ASD toddlers. A general increasing trend of severity of challenging behavior in infants and toddlers with ASD was noted to occur across age cohorts. Study 2 further investigated this relation in detail for the ASD group, where it was determined that there was a cluster of personal characteristics which appear to increase the risk of the young child with ASD engaging in higher rates of problem behavior. Risk factors which were found to be the most salient predictors of severe challenging behaviors included symptoms of comorbid mental illness (e.g., tantrums, conduct problems, anxiety, avoidance, inattention, and impulsivity), more severe autistic symptoms, and areas of developmental functioning. Implications of the results and directions for future research are discussed.
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