Adaptive Behavior in Young Autistic Children: Associations with Irritability and ADHD Symptoms

Kimberly L.H. Carpenter, Naomi O. Davis, Marina Spanos, Maura Sabatos-DeVito, Rachel Aiello, Grace T. Baranek, Scott N. Compton, Helen L. Egger, Lauren Franz, Soo Jeong Kim, Bryan H. King, Alexander Kolevzon, Christopher J. McDougle, Kevin Sanders, Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele, Linmarie Sikich, Scott H. Kollins, Geraldine Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms affect 40–60% of autistic children and have been linked to differences in adaptive behavior. It is unclear whether adaptive behavior in autistic youth is directly impacted by co-occurring ADHD symptoms or by another associated feature of both autism and ADHD, such as increased irritability. The current study examined relationships between irritability, ADHD symptoms, and adaptive behavior in 3- to 7-year-old autistic children. Results suggest that, after adjusting for co-occurring ADHD symptoms, higher levels of irritability are associated with differences in social adaptive behavior specifically. Understanding relationships between irritability, ADHD, and adaptive behavior in autistic children is critical because measures of adaptive behavior, such as the Vineland Scales of Adaptive Functioning, are often used as a proxy for global functioning, as well as for developing intervention plans and measuring outcomes as primary endpoints in clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Adaptive Behavior
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Irritability
  • Preschool Age


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