Emotion Regulation and Emotionality: An examination of correlates of social skills in young children with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders and Typical Development
Reyes, Nuri M.
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Background and Aims: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are characterized by deficits in social interactions and communication, and the presence of stereotypic behaviors and restricted interests. Children with ASD also demonstrate difficulties in emotional competence, including poor emotion regulatory capacity. The goal of this study was to investigate the link of social skills to emotion regulation and emotionality in 3 through 7 year-old children with and without ASD. Methods: Both parental report and behavioral laboratory observations were used to examine emotion regulation and emotionality in 21 typically developing (TD) children and 12 high functioning children with ASD. Results: This study had three major findings. First, an association between enhanced reported emotion regulation and increased social skills was found in children with ASD, but not in TD children. Second, children with ASD demonstrated lower reported emotion regulation, higher reported general negative emotionality, and lower reported general positive emotionality compared to their TD peers. Third, reported emotion regulation was linked to reported specific emotionality in children with ASD and to reported general emotionality in the TD group, though not in the predicted direction. Few significant findings occurred for observed emotion regulation or observed emotionality. Conclusions: Although current results should be interpreted with caution due to small sample size, a link between social skills and parent-reported emotion regulation was found in children with ASD. Children with ASD were also viewed by their parents as having poor emotion regulation and increased negative emotionality compared to their TD peers. Limitations and future research are discussed.
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