Supporting the Spectrum Hypothesis: Self-Reported Temperament in Children and Adolescents with High Functioning Autism

Catherine A Burrows, Lauren V. Usher, Caley B. Schwartz, Peter C. Mundy, Heather A. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


This study tested the spectrum hypothesis, which posits that children and adolescents with high functioning autism (HFA) differ quantitatively but not qualitatively from typically developing peers on self-reported temperament. Temperament refers to early-appearing, relatively stable behavioral and emotional tendencies, which relate to maladaptive behaviors across clinical populations. Quantitatively, participants with HFA (N = 104, aged 10–16) self-reported less surgency and more negative affect but did not differ from comparison participants (N = 94, aged 10–16) on effortful control or affiliation. Qualitatively, groups demonstrated comparable reliability of self-reported temperament and associations between temperament and parent-reported behavior problems. These findings support the spectrum hypothesis, highlighting the utility of self-report temperament measures for understanding individual differences in comorbid behavior problems among children and adolescents with HFA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1184-1195
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, Grant R01 MH71273 (Motivation, Self-Monitoring, & Family Process in Autism; PIs Henderson & Mundy); the University of Miami: General Research Support Award (PI Henderson) & Provost Research Award (PI Henderson); and the Marino Autism Research Institute.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • High-functioning autism
  • Self-report
  • Spectrum hypothesis
  • Temperament


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