Emotion Regulation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Role of Parent Co-Regulation and its Relations with Externalizing and Internalizing Problems
Ting, Victoria Elizabeth
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Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often exhibit internalizing and externalizing problems, which may be explained by emotion regulation (ER) difficulties. Parent co-regulation (i.e., supporting their child’s emotional development through scaffolding, and helping their child regulate emotions) may help improve child ER, and internalizing and externalizing problems. This study investigated the relationships amongst parent co-regulation, child ER, and internalizing and externalizing problems in a sample of 35 parents and school-aged children with ASD prior to an ER-focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy intervention. Active co-regulation strategies (e.g., prompting, redirection of attention), and scaffolding during an anxious situation were associated with parent-reported levels of internalizing problems. Although child ER did not emerge as a significant mediator or moderator, parent scaffolding and child ER were significant predictors of externalizing problems. Suggestions for future research on parent involvement in the emotional development of children with ASD are discussed, as well as implications for ER-focused interventions.