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Keywords:

  • restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRBs);
  • autism spectrum disorders (ASD);
  • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS);
  • toddlers;
  • preschoolers

Abstract

Restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRBs) observed during the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule [ADOS: Lord et al., 2000] were examined in a longitudinal data set of 455 toddlers and preschoolers (age 8–56 months) with clinical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD; autism, n=121 and pervasive developmental disorders—not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), n=71), a nonspectrum disorder (NS; n=90), or typical development (TD; n=173). Even in the relatively brief semi-structured observations, GEE analyses of the severity and prevalence of RRBs differentiated children with ASD from those with NS and TD across all ages. RRB total scores on the ADOS were stable over time for children with ASD and NS; however, typically developing preschoolers showed lower RRB scores than typically developing toddlers. Nonverbal IQ (NVIQ) was more strongly related to the prevalence of RRBs in older children with PDD-NOS, NS, and TD than younger children under 2 years and those with autism. Item analyses revealed different relationships between individual items and NVIQ, age, diagnosis, and gender. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the etiology and treatment of RRBs as well as for the framework of ASD diagnostic criteria in future diagnostic systems.