Emotion Regulation, Personality and Social Adjustment in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

DOI: 10.4236/psych.2014.515182   PDF   HTML   XML   6,646 Downloads   9,018 Views   Citations


The study examines how emotion regulation and emotion dysregulation in 3 - 12 years old children with autism spectrum disorders (n = 39) are linked with the five factors of personality and their social adjustment. Children were assessed by means of the Differential Scales of Intellectual Efficiency-Revised edition (EDEI-R). The teachers have completed the CARS-T, the Bipolar Rating Scales based on the Five Factor Model (EBMCF) and the French version of Emotion Regulation Checklist (ERC-vf) and a Social Adjustment scale (including items related to Theory of Mind, EASE-ToM, and related to social rules, EASE-Social-Skills). Positive and significant correlations are obtained between emotion regulation scores and verbal developmental age, personality factors of openness, agreeableness, and extraversion. The emotion dysregulation score is negatively and significantly linked with the factor of emotional stability, but positively and significantly linked with extraversion. Moreover, emotion regulation scores are positively and significantly linked with scores in social adjustment. Linear regression by stepwise shows that both extraversion and agreeableness explain 66.5% of the variance of the emotion regulation score; and extraversion, agreeableness and emotional stability explain 68.3% of the variance of the emotion dysregulation score. The openness explains 55.9% of the variance of the EASE-ToM score. Both agreeableness and extraversion explain 61.6% of the variance of the EASE-Social Skills score.

Share and Cite:

Nader-Grosbois, N. & Mazzone, S. (2014). Emotion Regulation, Personality and Social Adjustment in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Psychology, 5, 1750-1767. doi: 10.4236/psych.2014.515182.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Adrien, J.-L. (1996). Autisme du jeune enfant. Developpement psychologique et trouble de la regulation. Paris: Expansion Scientifique Francaise, Elsevier.
[2] Adrien, J.-L. (2005). Vers un nouveau modele de psychopathologie de l’autisme. PsychoMedia, 3, 37-41.
[3] Argott, P., Buffington Townsend, D., Sturmey, P., & Poulson, C. L. (2008). Increasing the Use of Empathic Statements in the Presence of a Non-Verbal Affective Stimulus in Adolescents with Autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2, 341-352.
[4] Bacon, A. L., Fein, D., Morris, R., Waterhouse, L., & Allen, D. (1998). The Responses of Autistic Children to the Distress of Others. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28, 129-142.
[5] Baurain, C., & Nader-Grosbois, N. (2013). Competences sociales et emotionnelles: Enfant typique et deficient intellectuel. Saarbrucken: Presses Academiques Francophones.
[6] Begeer, S., Koot, H. M., Rieffe, C., Meerum Terwogt, M., & Stegge, H. (2008). Emotional Competence in Children with Autism. Diagnostic Criteria and Empirical Evidence. Developmental Review, 28, 342-369.
[7] Bieberich, A. A., & Morgan, S. B. (2004). Self-Regulation and Affective Expression during Play in Children with Autism or Down Syndrome: A Short-Term Longitudinal Study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 439-448.
[8] Blanc, R., Adrien, J. L., Roux, S., & Barthelemy, C. (2005). Dysregulation of Pretend Play and Symbolic Communication in Children with Autism. Autism, 9, 229-245.
[9] Brun, P., Nadel, J., & Mattlinger, M. J. (1998). L’hypothese emotionnelle dans l’autisme. Psychologie Francaise, 43, 147-156.
[10] Capps, L., Kasari, C., Yirmiya, N., & Sigman, M. (1993). Parental Perception of Emotional Expressiveness in Children with Autism. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 61, 475-484.
[11] Caspi, A. (1998). Personality Development across the Life Course. In W. Damon, & N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology, Vol. 3 (5th ed., pp. 311-388). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
[12] Charman, T., Swettenham, J., Baron-Cohen, S., Cox, A., Baird, G., & Drew, A. (1998). An Experimental Investigation of Social Cognitive Abilities in Infants with Autism: Clinical Implications. Infant Mental Health Journal, 19, 260-275.
[13] Cole, P., Michel, M., & Teti, L. (1994). The Development of Emotion Regulation and Dysregulation: A Clinical Perspective. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59, 73-100.
[14] Comte-Gervais, I., Giron, A., Soares-Boucaud, I., & Poussin, G. (2008a). Evaluation de l’intelligence sociale chez l’enfant presentant des troubles specifiques du langage oral. Presentation d’une echelle d’evaluation clinique. L’Evolution Psychiatrique, 73, 353-366.
[15] Comte-Gervais, I., Giron, A., Soares-Boucaud, I., & Poussin, G. (2008b). L’evaluation de l’intelligence sociale chez l’enfant. L’Information Psychiatrique, 84, 667-673.
[16] Corona, R., Dissanayake, C., Arbelle, S., Wellington, P., & Sigman, M. (1998). Is Affect Aversive to Young Children with Autism? Behavioral and Cardiac Responses to Experimenter Distress. Child Development, 69, 1494-1502.
[17] Czapinski, P., & Bryson, S. E. (2003). Reduced Facial Muscle Movements in Autism: Evidence for Dysfunction in the Neuromuscular Pathway? Brain and Cognition, 51, 177-179.
[18] Dawson, G., & Lewy, H. (1989). Arousal, Attention and Socioemotional Impairments of Individuals with Autism. In G. Dawson (Ed.), Autism: Nature, Diagnosis and Treatment (pp. 49-74). New York: Guilford Press.
[19] Dawson, G., Hill, D., Spencer, A., Galpert, L., & Watson, L. (1990b). Affective Exchanges between Young Autistic Children and Their Mothers. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 18, 335-345.
[20] Dawson, G., Osterling, J., Meltzoff, A. N., & Kuhl, P. (2000). Case Study of the Development of an Infant with Autism from Birth to Two Years of Age. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 21, 299-313.
[21] Dawson, G., Webb, S. J., Carver, L., Panagiotides, H., & McPartland, J. (2004). Young Children with Autism Show Atypical Brain Responses to Fearful versus Neutral Facial Expressions of Emotion. Developmental Science, 7, 340-359.
[22] DeGangi, G. (2000). Pediatric Disorders of Regulation in Affect and Behavior: A Therapist’s Guide to Assessment and Treatment. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
[23] DePauw, S., Mervielde, I., & Van Leeuwen, K. (2009). How Are Traits Related Problem Behavior in Preschoolers? Similarities and Contrasts between Temperament and Personality. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 309-325.
[24] Dissanayake, C., Sigman, M., & Kasari, C. (1996). Long-Term Stability of Individual Differences in the Emotional Responsiveness of Children with Autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 37, 461-467.
[25] Downs, A., & Smith, T. (2004). Emotional Understanding, Cooperation, and Social Behavior in High-Functioning Children with Autism. Journal on Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 625-635.
[26] Eisenberg, N., & Spinrad, T. L. (2004). Emotion-Related Regulation: Sharpening the Definition. Child Development, 75, 334-339.
[27] Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Guthrie, I. K., & Reiser, M. (2000). Dispositional Emotionality and Regulation: Their Role in Predicting Quality of Social Functioning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 136-157.
[28] Fortenberry, C. L., Grist, C. L., & McCord, D. M. (2011). Personality Trait Differences between Typically Developing Children and Those Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Individual Differences Research, 9, 73-83.
[29] Garon, N., Bryson, S. E., Zwaigenbaum, L., Smith, I. M., Brian, J., Roberts, W., & Szatmari, P. (2009). Temperament and Its Relationship to Autistic Symptoms in a High-Risk Infant Sib Cohort. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 59-78.
[30] Gattegno, M. P., Abenhaim, N., Kremer, A., Castro, C., & Adrien, J. L. (2006). Etude longitudinale du developpement cognitive et social d’un enfant autiste beneficiant du programme IDDEES. Journal de Therapie Comportementale et Cognitive, 16, 157-168.
[31] Gomez, C. R., & Baird, S. (2005). Identifying Early Indicators for Autism in Self Regulation Difficulties. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 20, 106-116.
[32] Grist, C. L., & McCord, D. M. (2010). Individual Differences in Preschool Children: Temperament or Personality? Infant and Child Development, 19, 264-274.
[33] Grist, C. L., Socha, A., & McCord, D. M. (2012). The M5-PS-45: A Five-Factor Personality Questionnaire for Preschool Children. Journal of Personality Assessment, 94, 287-295.
[34] Gross, J. J., & Thompson, R. A. (2007). Emotion Regulation: Conceptual Foundations. In J. J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of Emotion Regulation (pp. 3-24). New York: Guilford Press.
[35] Gulsrud, A. C., Jahromi, L. B., & Kasari, C. (2010). The Co-Regulation of Emotions between Mothers and Their Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 227-237.
[36] Hobson, R. P. (1993). Autism and the Development of Mind. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
[37] Hobson, R. P., & Lee, A. (1998). Hello and Goodbye: A Study of Social Engagement in Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28, 117-127.
[38] Hudry, K., & Slaughter, V. (2009). Agent Familiarity and Emotional Context Influence the Everyday Empathic Responding of Young Children with Autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3, 74-85.
[39] Hughes, C., Soares-Boucaud, I., Hochman, J., & Frith, U. (1997). Social Behaviour in Pervasive Developmental Disorders: Effects of Informants Group and “Theory of Mind”. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 6, 191-198.
[40] Jahromi, L. B., Bryce, C. I., & Swanson, J. (2013). The Importance of Self-Regulation for the School and Peer Engagement of Children with High-Functioning Autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7, 235-246.
[41] Jahromi, L. B., Meek, S. E., & Ober-Reynolds, S. (2012). Emotion Regulation in the Context of Frustration with High Functioning Autism and Their Typical Peers. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53, 1250-1258.
[42] Kasari, C., & Sigman, M. (1996). Expression and Understanding of Emotion in Atypical Development: Autism and Down Syndrome. In M. Lewis, & M. W. Sullivan (Eds.), Emotional Development in Atypical Children (pp. 109-130). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
[43] Kasari, C., Sigman, M., & Yirmiya, N. (1993). Focused and Social Attention of Autistic-Children in Interactions with Familiar and Unfamiliar Adults: A Comparison of Autistic, Mentally-Retarded, and Normal-Children. Development and Psychopathology, 5, 403-414.
[44] Kasari, C., Sigman, M., Mundy, P., & Yirmiya, N. (1990). Affective Sharing in the Context of Joint Attention Interactions of Normal, Autistic, and Mentally Retarded Children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 20, 87-100.
[45] Kohnstamm, G. A., Halverson Jr., C. F., Mervielde, I., & Havill, V. L. (1998). Parental Descriptions of Child Personality: Developmental Antecedents of the Big Five. London: Lawrence Erlbaum.
[46] Konstantareas, M. M., & Stewart, K. (2006). Affect Regulation and Temperament in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 143-154.
[47] Lacroix, A., Guidetti, M., Roge, B., & Reilly, J. (2009). Recognition of Emotional and Nonemotional Facial Expressions: A Comparison between Williams Syndrome and Autism. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 30, 976-985.
[48] Litty, C. G. (2007). Temperament and Personality in Preschoolers: Are the Concepts the Same or Different. Ph.D. Dissertation.
[49] Loveland, K. A. (2005). Social-Emotional Impairment and Self-Regulation in Autism Spectrum Disorders. In J. Nadel, & D. Muir (Eds.), Emotional Development: Recent Research Advances (pp. 365-382). Oxford: University Press.
[50] Loveland, K. A., Tunali-kotoski, B., Pearson, D. A., Brelsford, K. A., Ortegon, J., & Chen, R. (1994). Imitation and Expression of Facial Affect in Autism. Development and Psychopathology, 6, 433-444.
[51] Mazefsky, C. A., Herrington, J., Siegel, M., Scarpa, A., Maddox, B. B., Scahill, L., & White, S. W. (2013). The Role of Emotion Regulation in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 52, 679-688.
[52] Mazzone, S., & Nader-Grosbois, N. (2014). La socialisation parentale des emotions. Etude de cas sur les strategies de parents d’enfants presentant un trouble du spectre autistique. In J. C. Kalubi, M. Tremblay, H. Gascon, & J. M. Bouchard (Eds.), Recherche, droits et gouvernance en faveur de la personne et de ses proches. Actes du XIIe Congres AIRHM Quebec 2012 (pp. 207-218). Montreal: Les Editions de la collectivite.
[53] McCrae, R. R., & Costa, P. T. (1987). Validation of the Five-Factor Model of Personality across Instruments and Observers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 81-90.
[54] McGovern, C. W., & Sigman, M. (2005). Continuity and Change from Early Childhood to Adolescence in Autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 401-408.
[55] Measelle, J. R., John, O. P., Ablow, J. C., Cowan, P. A., & Cowan, C. P. (2005). Can Children Provide Coherent, Stable and Valid Self-Reports on the Big Five Dimensions? A Longitudinal Study from Ages 5 to 7. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 90-106.
[56] Mervielde, I., & De Fruyt, F. (1999). The Construction of the Hierarchical Personality Inventory for Children (HiPICS). In I. Mervielde, I. Deary, F. De Fruyt, & F. Ostendorf (Eds.), Personality Psychology in Europe. Proceedings of the Eight European Conference on Personality Psychology (pp. 107-127). Tilburg: Tilburg University Press.
[57] Mervielde, I., De Clercq, B., De Fruyt, F., & Van Leeuwen, K. (2005). Temperament, Personality, and Developmental Psychopathology as Childhood Antecedents of Personality Disorders. Journal of Personality Disorders, 19, 171-201.
[58] Nadel, J., Croue, S., Mattlinger, M. J., Canet, P., Hudelot, C., Lecuyer, C., & Martini, M. (2000). Do Children with Autism Have Expectancies about Social Behaviour of Unfamiliar People? Autism, 4, 133-145.
[59] Nader-Grosbois, N. (2007). L’autoregulation et la dysregulation chez des enfants autistes en situation d’evaluation developpementale. Revue Francophone de la Deficience Intellectuelle, 17, 34-52.
[60] Nader-Grosbois, N. (2011a). Theorie de l’esprit: Entre cognition, emotion et adaptation sociale. Bruxelles: De Boeck.
[61] Nader-Grosbois, N. (2011b). Self-Regulation, Dysregulation, Emotion Regulation and Their Impact on Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Abilities in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In T. Williams (Ed.), Autism Spectrum Disorders: From Genes to Environment (pp. 243-286). Rijeka: Intech Open access Publishers.
[62] Nader-Grosbois, N. (2012). Regulation emotionnelle chez l’enfant a developpement atypique. In M. Mikolajczak, & M. Desseilles (Eds.), Traite sur la regulation emotionnelle (pp. 459-472). Bruxelles: De Boeck.
[63] Nader-Grosbois, N., & Day, J. (2011). Emotional Cognition: Theory of Mind and Face Recognition. In J. Matson, & P. Sturney (Eds.), International Handbook of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (pp. 127-157). New York: Springer.
[64] Nader-Grosbois, N., & Mazzone, S. (accepted). Validation de la version francophone de l’Emotion Regulation Checklist (ERC-vf). Revue Europeenne de Psychologie Appliquee.
[65] Nader-Grosbois, N., Baurain, C., & Mazzone, S. (2012). Emotion Regulation, Social Cognition and Social Adjustment: Specificities in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In C. E. Richardson, & R. A. Wood (Eds.), Autism Spectrum Disorders: New Research (pp. 1-39). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.
[66] Perron-Borelli, M. (1996). Echelles Differentielles d’Efficiences Intellectuelles. Forme Revisee (EDEI-R). Paris: Editions et Applications Psychologiques.
[67] Prizant, B. M., Wetherby, A. M., Rubin, E., & Laurent, A. C. (2003). The SCERTS Model: A Transactional, Family-Centered Approach to Enhancing Communication and Socioemotional Abilities of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Infants and Young Children, 16, 296-316.
[68] Remy, S. (2013). Les enfants autistes dysregules peuvent-ils evoluer a l’ecole? Les Cahiers du Diplome d’Etat de Psychologie Scolaire de l’Universite Paris Descartes.
[69] Robins, D., Fein, D., Barton, M., & Green, J. (2001). The Modified-Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT): An Initial Investigation in the Early Detection of Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31, 131-144.
[70] Roskam, I., de Maere-Gaudissart, A., & Vandenplas-Holper, C. (2000). Mise au point d’un instrument d’evaluation de la personnalite des enfants a partir du Modele a Cinq Facteurs. L’Orientation Scolaire et Professionnelle, 29, 661-672.
[71] Rothbart, M. K., & Bates, J. E. (1998). Temperament. In W. Damon (Series Ed.) & N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.), Social, Emotional, and Personality Development: Vol. 3. Handbook of Child Psychology (pp. 105-176). New-York: Wiley.
[72] Saarni, C. (1999). The Development of Emotional Competence. New York: Guilford Press.
[73] Samson, A. C., Phillips, J. M., Parker, K. J., Shah, S., Gross, J. J., & Hardan, A. Y. (2014). Emotion Dysregulation and the Core Features of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 1766-1772.
[74] Santucci, A. K., Silk, J. S., Shaw, D. S., Gentzler, A., Fox, N. A., & Kovacs, M. (2008). Vagal Tone and Temperament as Predictors of Emotion Regulation Strategies in Young Children. Developmental Psychobiology, 50, 205-216.
[75] Scambler, D. J., Hepburn, S., Rutherford, M. D., Wehner, E. A., & Rogers, S. J. (2007). Emotional Responsivity in Children with Autism, Children with Other Developmental Disabilities, and Children with Typical Development. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 553-563.
[76] Schopler, E., Reichler, R., & Rochen Renner, B. (1993). Childhood Autism Rating Scale. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.
[77] Schriber, R. A., Robins, R. W., & Solomon, M. (2014). Personality and Self-Insight in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106, 112-130.
[78] Seynhaeve, I., & Nader-Grosbois, N. (2008). Sensorimotor Development and Dysregulation of Activity in Young Children with Autism and with Intellectual Disabilities. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2, 46-59.
[79] Seynhaeve, I., Nader-Grosbois, N., & Dionne, C. (2008). Functional Abilities and Neuropsychological Dysfunctions in Young Children with Autism and with Intellectual Disabilities. ALTER-European Journal of Disability Research, 2, 230-252.
[80] Shields, A., & Cicchetti, D. (1997). Emotion Regulation among School-Age Children: The Development and Validation of a New Criterion Q-Sort Scale. Developmental Psychology, 33, 906-916.
[81] Sigman, M. D., Kasari, C., Kwon, J. H., & Yirmiya, N. (1992). Responses to the Negative Emotions of Others by Autistic, Mentally Retarded, and Normal Children. Child Development, 63, 796-807.
[82] Sofronoff, K., Attwood, T., Hinton, S., & Levin, I. (2007). A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Cognitive Behavioural Intervention for Anger Management in Children Diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1203-1214.
[83] Southam-Gerow, M., & Kendall, P. (2002). Emotion Regulation and Understanding: Implication for Child Psychopathology and Therapy. Clinical Psychology Review, 22, 189-222.
[84] Tardif, C., Laine, F., Rodriguez, M., & Gepner, B. (2007). Slowing Down Presentation of Facial Movements and Vocal Sounds Enhances Facial Expression Recognition and Induces Facial-Vocal Imitation in Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1469-1484.
[85] Thompson, R. (1994). Emotion Regulation: A Theme in Search of Definition. In N. Fox (Ed.), The Development of Emotion Regulation: Biological and Behavioral Considerations. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Vol. 59 (pp. 25-52). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
[86] Travis, L., Sigman, M., & Ruskin, E. (2001). Links between Social Understanding and Social Behavior in Verbally Able Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31, 119-130.
[87] Trevarthen, C. (1989). Les relations entre autisme et le developpement socioculturel normal: Arguments en faveur d’un trouble primaire de la regulation du developpement cognitif par les emotions. In G. Lelord, J. P. Muh, M. Petit, & D. Sauvage (Eds.), Autismes et troubles du developpement global de l’enfant (pp. 56-80). Paris: Expansion Scientifique Francaise.
[88] Werner, K., & Gross, J. J. (2010). Emotion Regulation and Psychopathology: A Conceptual Framework. In A. M. Kring, & D. M. Sloan (Eds.), Emotion Regulation and Psychopathology: A Transdiagnostic Approach to Etiology and Treatment (pp. 13-37). New York: Guilford Press.
[89] Whitman, T. (2004). The Development of Autism: A Self-Regulatory Perspective. New-York: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
[90] Yirmiya, N., Kasari, C., Sigman, M., & Mundy, P. (1989). Facial Expressions of Affect in Autistic, Mentally Retarded and Normal Children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 30, 725-735.
[91] Yirmiya, N., Sigman, M. D., Kasari, C., & Mundy, P. (1992). Empathy and Cognition in High-Functioning Children with Autism. Child Development, 63, 150-160.

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2020 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.