EXAMINING THE ASSOCIATION BETWEEN ELECTRODERMAL ACTIVITY AND PROBLEM BEHAVIOR IN SEVERE AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER: A FEASIBILITY STUDY
Background: Many individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) engage in problem behavior, presenting significant challenges for those providing care and services for this population. Psychophysiological measures of arousal, such as electrodermal activity (EDA), may provide an early indication of subsequent problem behavior. However, variability in EDA patterns associated with behaviors may limit this predictive ability.
Methods: EDA data was sampled from eight individuals with severe ASD in a naturalistic setting, while participating in educational programming in a school setting at a residential facility for severely affected individuals with developmental disabilities, to examine variability in EDA patterns.
Results: An anticipatory rise in EDA only occurred 60% of the time prior to the problem behavior. Additionally, EDA after a problem behavior returned to median baseline levels only 45% of the time.
Conclusions: Heterogeneity of EDA responses in those with the most severe forms of ASD will be an important consideration in future studies utilizing psychophysiological tools such as EDA to anticipate problem behavior, including the need for monitoring of return to baseline after problem behaviors. Incorporation of this consideration may lead to greater reliability of these approaches to help anticipate and manage problem behaviors.