Are restricted and repetitive behaviours in two- and six-year-olds associated with emotional and behavioural difficulties?


Background: Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour (RRBs) serve an adaptive role in development. Elevated levels of RRBs beyond the early years, however, are associated with poorer outcome in language, cognition, and wellbeing, and are seen across a range of neurodevelopmental conditions. This study aimed to characterize the association of distinct RRB subtypes at two and six years of age, with internalising and externalising difficulties in a community sample of children. Methods: 485 parents reported on their child’s insistence on sameness (IS) and repetitive sensory and motor (RSM) RRBs at two and six years of age using the Repetitive Behaviour Questionnaire (RBQ-2). Emotional and behavioural difficulties were measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) at age six. Results: Consistent with previous research, RRBs later in development better predicted emotional and behavioural difficulties at age six than RRBs earlier in development. Moreover, IS RRBs were selectively associated with internalising behaviours and RSM RRBs with externalising behaviours. Importantly, these selective associations depended on when RRBs were measured. Only IS RRBs at age six were significantly associated with internalising behaviour. By contrast, while more RSM RRBs at age six were associated with higher rates of externalising behaviours, higher rates of RSM RRBs at age two were associated with fewer externalising behaviours, adding further support to the previously reported adaptive role of RRBs in early behaviour regulation. Conclusion: Although there is a need for further research to provide a detailed profile of the adaptive periods for IS and RSM RRBs, the present findings support the potential utility of elevated RRBs as a signal for emotional and behavioural difficulties at age six.

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Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Aston Institute of Health & Neurodevelopment (AIHN)
College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors. JCPP Advances published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Funding: Northern and Yorkshire NHS R&D. Grant Number: R aCRC/CH11LG Leverhulme Trust. Grant Number: EM-2021-053\10 Economic and Social Research Council. Grant Numbers: R000222771, R000239456
Last Modified: 20 May 2024 07:44
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2023 15:50
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Related URLs: https://acamh.o ... 1002/jcv2.12209 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2023-11-03
Published Online Date: 2023-11-03
Accepted Date: 2023-10-18
Authors: Carrington, Sarah (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5548-8793)
Uljarević, Mirko
Meins, Elizabeth
Fernyhough, Charles
McConachie, Helen
Le-Couteur, Ann
Leekam, Susan R.



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