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      Predictors of Aggressive Behaviour in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


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          Introduction: Aggressive behaviour is not the main symptom of autism spectrum disorders, and if it occurs in this population, it is a consequence of some other factors.

          Objectives: With regard to that, the aim of this paper is to determine to what extent certain aspects of executive functions, severity of autism, sleep habits, and parenting actions contribute to the manifestation of different forms of aggressive behaviour in children with an autism spectrum disorder.

          Methods: The sample included 40 children with autism spectrum disorders, 5-7 years of age (M=6.18, SD= .55). The following instruments were used in the assessment: The Children’s Scale of Hostility and Aggression – Reactive/Proactive, Gilliam Autism Rating Scale – Third Edition, The Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire and Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function.

          Results: The obtained results showed that sleep problems were the most significant predictor of verbal, physical and covert aggression. From the domain of behavioural aspects of executive functions, only task monitor was a significant predictor of bullying, and inhibit and shift were significant predictors of hostility. From the field of autistic disorders, significant predictors of aggressive behaviour were emotional responses (as predictors of bullying, covert aggression and hostility), and maladaptive speech (as a predictor of verbal aggression, covert aggression and hostility). Punitive discipline was a significant factor only in explaining verbal aggression.

          Conclusion: Practical implications of this research indicate that, in treating aggressive behaviour in children with ASD, more attention should be paid to sleep habits, practising task monitor, inhibit and shift skills, and avoiding rigorous punitive measures.

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          Most cited references28

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          Gender and aggressive behavior: a meta-analytic review of the social psychological literature.

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            Sleep in children with autistic spectrum disorder.

            Children and adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) suffer from sleep problems, particularly insomnia, at a higher rate than typically developing children, ranging from 40% to 80%. Sleep problems in ASD might occur as a result of complex interactions between biological, psychological, social/environmental, and family factors, including child rearing practices that are not conducive to good sleep. Interestingly, children with a history of developmental regression have a more disturbed sleep pattern than children without regression. Even though regulation of sleep in children with ASD is still poorly understood, circadian abnormalities in autism might be the result of genetic abnormalities related to melatonin synthesis and melatonin's role in modulating synaptic transmission. Recently a bifurcation of the sleep/wake cycle with increased sensitivity to external noise and short sleep duration causing irregular sleep onset and wake up times has been suggested. Identifying and treating sleep disorders may result not only in improved sleep, but also impact favorably on daytime behavior and family functioning. Several studies have also demonstrated effectiveness of behavioral interventions for sleep onset and maintenance problems in these populations. When behavioral interventions are not effective or lead only to a partial response, pharmacological treatment options should be considered. Studies of melatonin use in children with ASD provide evidence for its effectiveness and safety in the long run. The clinician assessing a child with an ASD should screen carefully for sleep disorders and make referrals as indicated. Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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              Aggression in children and adolescents with ASD: prevalence and risk factors.

              The prevalence of and risk factors for aggression were examined in 1,380 children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Prevalence was high, with parents reporting that 68% had demonstrated aggression to a caregiver and 49% to non-caregivers. Overall, aggression was not associated with clinician observed severity of ASD symptoms, intellectual functioning, gender, marital status, parental educational level, or aspects of communication. Individuals who are younger, come from a higher income family, have more parent reported social/communication problems, or engage in repetitive behaviors were more likely to demonstrate aggression. Given the significant impact of aggression on individual and family outcomes, it is hoped that this knowledge will inform more targeted intervention efforts.

                Author and article information

                Journal for ReAttach Therapy and Developmental Diversities
                ReAttach Therapy International Foundation
                26 November 2019
                22 January 2020
                : 2
                : 2
                [1 ]University of Belgrade – Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation, Belgrade, Serbia
                [2 ]School „Dušan Dugalić“, Belgrade, Serbia
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Nenad P. Glumbić ( nenadglumbic@ 123456gmail.com )
                © Đorđević, M. V., Glumbić, N. P., Brojčin, B. B., Jojić M. P.

                This is an open access article published by ReAttach Therapy International Foundation and distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

                Page count
                Pages: 12
                Neuropsychological Research

                Pediatrics,Psychology,Special education,Health & Social care,Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                Maladaptive behaviour,Executive functions,Sleep habits


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