Masters Thesis

Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Observational Scale

Restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRBs) are a core symptom of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The most common RRBs are hand flapping, finger tapping, body swaying, or out-of-context waving. RRBs disrupt attachment between parent and child. The purpose of the current study was to create a rating scale that measures RRBs during observation of parent-child interactions to allow researchers to objectively score RRBs to yield ratings with higher reliability and validity than current measurements. The Repetitive Behavior Scale-Observation (RBS-O) was created to assess 30 RRBs. Participants were 26 ASD children, who interacted in the lab with their mothers in a problem-solving task. Researchers rated children’s RRBs. Analyses of the RBS-O revealed the difficulty of witnessing these RRBs during a short time period, particularly in a laboratory setting. Only 33% of items on the original measure were observed and scored. I removed items that were not scored, as well as those with no variability in scoring. Items with low item whole correlations were also removed, leaving a final sixitem measure. Inter-rater reliability was high and concurrent validity with an existing measure of parent-reported observable behaviors was high as well. Limitations, however, include the low number of behaviors observed and short testing period.

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