Category: Autism Spectrum and Developmental Disorders
More than half of youths with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) behave aggressively toward other individuals. Although a wide range of individual and social-ecological (e.g., family, peer) variables have been linked with aggressive and disruptive behaviors in youths with ASD, researchers have not examined the relative contribution of these variables to aggression in this clinical population. This study used self-report, caregiver-report, and behavior rating measures to examine the relation of key social-ecological variables to aggression in 120 youths with ASD. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses indicated that individual youth and family factors were significant predictors of both physical and aggression in youth with ASD. Caregiver stress, youth restrictive and repetitive behaviors, caregiver avoidant coping, and lower family cohesion explained 54% of the variance in physical aggression. Moreover, caregiver stress, caregiver avoidant coping, lower family cohesion, and poor sleep quality for youths accounted for 30% of the variance in verbal aggression. The results may help to identify likely targets of intervention aimed at reducing aggressive behavior in this clinical population of youths.