Phenomenology and measurement of circumscribed interests in autism spectrum disorders.


Journal Article

Circumscribed interests (CI) are important and understudied symptoms that affect individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The present study sought to develop quantitative measures of the content, intensity and functional impairment of CI in 50 children with high-functioning ASD compared to an age-, IQ-, and gender-matched sample of 50 typically developing (TD) peers. The Interests Scale, a parent-rating questionnaire, and the Interview for Repetitive Behaviors, a semi-structured interview, were used to assess CI. Groups did not differ on the number of interests children held, but they did differ on types of interests and impairment associated with them. The interests of ASD participants were more likely to be nonsocial in nature (e.g. mechanical systems) than TD participants. Parents of children with ASD endorsed higher degrees of functional impairment on metrics including frequency, interference, resistance when interrupted, flexibility, and accommodation required, as well as less involvement of other people, than parents of children with TD. These findings suggest that interests of individuals with ASD differ qualitatively and in intensity from individuals with TD. The present study offers further support for the notion that CI reflect a clinically significant feature of ASD that warrants intervention in some children.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Turner-Brown, LM; Lam, KSL; Holtzclaw, TN; Dichter, GS; Bodfish, JW

Published Date

  • July 2011

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 15 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 437 - 456

PubMed ID

  • 21454386

Pubmed Central ID

  • 21454386

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1461-7005

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1362361310386507


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England