Temperament Intervention for Problem Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
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Problem behavior is a major barrier to good quality of life for families who have children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The concept of modifying the environment to produce a better match with a child's temperament is commonly used to inform interventions in the child development field. However, temperament has not yet been integrated into problem behavior interventions for children with ASD, nor have temperament-based strategies been evaluated in a systematic way. The purpose of the present study was to employ temperament-based interventions to modify problematic environmental contexts so that they are a better fit for the temperament styles of highly extraverted children and to evaluate these interventions to determine whether they result in a reduction of problem behavior and an increase in quality of life. Six highly extraverted children with ASD who display problem behavior participated. Assessments of problem behavior, extraversion, and quality of life were conducted and parents were taught to mitigate challenging situations to make them a better fit for their child's temperament. A multiple baseline experimental design was used to evaluate intervention effects for specific high priority contexts. Results indicated that modifying the environment to better fit a child's temperament was associated with decreased problem behavior and increased percentage of task steps completed correctly. Subsequent to the experimental demonstration, a clinical extension of the intervention methodology was applied for each child to an additional problem context in order to further enhance intervention benefits. T-test results of ancillary pre and post intervention measures indicate that intervention was associated with a decrease in overall problem behavior. This research highlights the importance of understanding temperament when assessing and treating problem behavior in children with ASD.