Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Child, Family, and School Psychology

First Advisor

Cynthia Hazel, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kathy Green, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jeanine Coleman, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Kimberly Bender, Ph.D.


Autism spectrum disorder, Maladaptive behavior, Temperament


The current study is an ex post facto nonexperimental design analyzing archival data collected from previous trials of a large-scale longitudinal study conducted by researchers at JFK Partners, Center of Excellence in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in collaboration with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical School (Principal Investigator: Susan Hepburn, Ph.D.). Specifically, the study looked at the temperament characteristics of mood, intensity, adaptability, and approach measured within early childhood and how they relate to later maladaptive behavior within a group of elementary age children diagnosed with ASD. Maladaptive behavior is a particularly salient outcome, as it impacts the child and family above and beyond the challenges associated with ASD (Hartley, Sikora, and McCoy, 2008; Hastings et al., 2005; Lecavalier, Leone, & Wiltz 2006). There is an established body of literature exploring how temperament can act as a risk factor that predisposes individuals who are typically developing to a variety of later negative outcomes, including maladaptive behavior (Belsky & Pluess, 2009; Boyce, 2016; Earls & Jung, 1987; Martin, 1994; Rothbart, 2012a; Thomas & Chess, 1977). However, more research is needed to explore temperament characteristics and later maladaptive behavior for children with ASD.

A sample of 71 children with ASD met the inclusion criteria within the archival longitudinal dataset. Power analyses indicated that the results were underpowered and thus should be interpreted with caution. Results yielded statistically significant correlations between approach, intensity, and mood with later maladaptive behavior. Further, when controlling for estimated cognitive ability, gender, and maternal education, significant predictive relationships were found between the temperament characteristics of mood, intensity, and approach with later maladaptive behavior. Finally, the combined temperament characteristics yielded significant results when predicting later maladaptive behavior. Notably, the temperament construct of adaptability was not significantly related to or predictive of later maladaptive behavior within the current study.

The results highlighted the construct of mood, and related constructs, as particularly salient predictors of later maladaptive behavioral outcomes within children with ASD. Additionally, intensity and approach were predictive of externalizing and internalizing behavior respectively. Looking at the combination of temperament factors may also have important implications regarding later behavioral outcomes with children with ASD. Thus, the results highlight that examining temperament as a risk factor for the development of later maladaptive behavior for children with ASD is an important area of study that requires future inquiry.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Caren Rhodes


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

189 p.


Psychology, Disability studies