Reduced delay of gratification and effortful control among young children with autism spectrum disorders.
We explored internal control of behavior using direct observation and parent report. Previous research has found that both the delay of gratification task and parent-reported effortful control predict later social ability and more positive outcomes in typically developing children. Children with autism spectrum disorder have previously been reported to have reduced effortful control, whereas delay of gratification ability has not been tested in a group with autism spectrum disorder. The current study compared 21 children with autism spectrum disorder and 21 typically developing children between 6 and 7 years of age-all of whom had cognitive ability at or above the average range. Children with autism spectrum disorder were less able to delay gratification, and their parents reported significantly reduced effortful control; however, scores on these measures were unrelated within the group with autism spectrum disorder. Among the children with autism spectrum disorder, lower effortful control was associated with more severe clinician-observed social symptoms.
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