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See detailSocially assistive robots for teaching emotional abilities to children with autism spectrum disorder
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Steffgen, Georges UL; Rodriguez Lera, Francisco Javier UL et al

Scientific Conference (2017, March)

Socially assistive robots, when used in a way that takes into consideration children’s needs and developmental characteristics, can be useful tools to enable children’s development. More specifically, due ... [more ▼]

Socially assistive robots, when used in a way that takes into consideration children’s needs and developmental characteristics, can be useful tools to enable children’s development. More specifically, due to their characteristics (predictability, simplicity, and repetition) robots can be especially helpful to teach emotional abilities to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Previous research has provided preliminary evidence that robots can help children improve in some domains such as joint attention and imitation. However, no studies have examined how robots can be integrated in intervention protocols targeting the acquisition of emotional abilities in children with ASD. This paper presents a work in progress on an emotional ability training developed for children with ASD using the QT socially assistive robot. This training aims to test whether children with ASD can benefit from a robot-mediated training to improve emotional ability. [less ▲]

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See detailContributors to well-being and stress in parents of children with autism spectrum disorder
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Steffgen, Georges UL; Ferring, Dieter UL

in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders (2017)

Background: Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present more well-being and stress problems than parents of typically developing (TD) children. However not all parents present these ... [more ▼]

Background: Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present more well-being and stress problems than parents of typically developing (TD) children. However not all parents present these problems. These problems can be due to a dynamic interaction between environmental antecedents, person antecedents, and mediating processes. Understanding how these factors separately contribute to explain parents’ well-being and stress can have implications for intervention programs. The aim of this study was to explain parents’ subjective well-being and physiological stress by considering whether they had a child with ASD or not and their child’s negativity (environmental antecedents), their perception of their child’s problems (person antecedents), and their use of reappraisal (mediating processes). Method: Thirty-seven parents of children with ASD and 41 parents of TD children reported their subjective well-being and their physiological stress was assessed. Additionally, children’s negativity was observed, parents rated their perception of their child’s problems (autistic traits, emotion regulation ability, and lability/negativity), and parents reported their use of reappraisal. Results: Compared to parents of TD children, parents of children with ASD reported having lower subjective well-being and had increased physiological stress. Parents’ perceptions of children’s lability/negativity and parents’ use of reappraisal were better predictors of parents’ subjective well-being than ASD and parents’ perceptions of children’s lability/negativity contributed to parents’ physiological stress as much as ASD. Conclusions: Prevention and intervention programs targeting parental well-being and stress will benefit from working with parents at the level of perceptual constructs and reappraisal ability. [less ▲]

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See detailExpressive incoherence and alexithymia in autism spectrum disorder
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Steffgen, Georges UL; Samson, Andrea C.

in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (2017)

Expressive incoherence can be implicated in socio-emotional communicative problems in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The present study examined expressive incoherence in 37 children with ASD and 41 ... [more ▼]

Expressive incoherence can be implicated in socio-emotional communicative problems in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The present study examined expressive incoherence in 37 children with ASD and 41 typically developing (TD) children aged 3–13 years old during a frustration task. The role of alexithymia in expressive incoherence was also assessed. Compared to TD children, children with ASD had higher expressive incoherence, such as more neutral and positive emotion expressions during negative behaviors, but not in the expression of negative emotions during positive behaviors. Further analyses revealed that alexithymia moderated the expressions of positive emotions during negative behaviors. These results suggest that children with ASD may benefit from interventions targeting alexithymia to increase emotional coherence, which may improve socio-emotional communication. [less ▲]

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See detailCoping with cyberbullying: A comparison between schools
Steffgen, Georges UL; Pinto Costa, Andreia UL

Scientific Conference (2016, July 15)

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See detailEmotional reactivity and emotion regulation in children with autism spectrum disorder.
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL

Doctoral thesis (2016)

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction, as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors and ... [more ▼]

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction, as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Additionally, children with ASD often present internalizing and externalizing problems such as anxiety, depression, and conduct problems. These problems can hinder children’s social competence and development and may have repercussions into adolescence and adulthood. It is believed that internalizing and externalizing problems originate from children’s emotional difficulties such as difficulties in emotional reactivity and emotion regulation. The aim of the present thesis was therefore to examine the role of emotional reactivity and emotion regulation in children with ASD. Emotional difficulties in children with ASD may be due to several factors: ASD’s core symptoms, children’s other characteristics such as alexithymia, and parents’ characteristics. The relation between these factors to emotional difficulties in children with ASD have been integrated into a model of the emotional reactivity and emotion regulation difficulties in children with ASD. Based on the model’s assumptions different hypotheses were formulated for the present thesis: (a) ASD’s core symptoms contribute to children’s emotional difficulties by increasing emotional reactivity, decreasing emotion regulation, and increasing emotional incoherence; (b) children’s alexithymia also contributes to children’s emotional difficulties by increasing them; (c) ASD’s core symptoms are related to parents’ characteristics by decreasing parents’ emotion regulation capacity, increasing parents’ stress reaction, and decreasing parents’ frequency of interaction with their children; (d) difficulties in emotional reactivity and emotion regulation in children together with alexithymia are also related to parents’ characteristics; (e) in turn, parents’ frequency of interaction with the child also contributes to children’s difficulties in emotional reactivity and emotion regulation. Applying a multimethod approach where parents-reports, parents’ self-reports, observations, and physiological indicators were used, 37 children with ASD and 66 typically developing (TD) children and their parents were assessed. It was found that: (a) children with ASD had more emotional reactivity, less emotion regulation ability, and more emotional incoherence than TD children; (b) children’s alexithymia contributed more than ASD diagnosis to the explanation of some aspects of emotional reactivity and emotional incoherence but not of emotion regulation; (c) parents of children with ASD had more emotion regulation difficulties, more stress, and interacted less frequently with their children than parents of TD children; (d) parents’ perceptions of children’s difficulties contributed more to parents’ emotion regulation capacity and as much to parents’ stress as ASD diagnosis; moreover, children’s alexithymia also contributed more to parents’ frequency of interaction with their children than ASD diagnosis; and (e) parents’ frequency of interaction with their children contributed to more positive and negative emotional expressions and to the use of better emotion regulation strategies in children. The present findings highlight the complexity of emotional difficulties in children with ASD by suggesting that difficulties in emotional reactivity and emotion regulation are reflected at the subjective, observational, and physiological levels. Furthermore, these difficulties are influenced by different factors: children’s ASD characteristics, children’s other characteristics such as alexithymia, and parents’ characteristics. Given the relevance of emotional difficulties to internalizing and externalizing problems in children with ASD it is important that interventions include a multicomponent approach to emotional difficulties in ASD. Furthermore, interventions would benefit from integrating children’s alexithymia and parents’ characteristics such as their difficulties with emotion regulation and stress to help alleviate emotional difficulties in children with ASD. Finally, parents’ trainings on learning strategies to deal with their children’s emotional reactivity might prove beneficial both for parents and for children. [less ▲]

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See detailCoping with cyberbullying in adolescent population
Steffgen, Georges UL; Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Slee, Phillip

Scientific Conference (2015, May 22)

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See detailCoping with Bullying questionnaire: Validation of the German adaptation
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Steffgen, Georges UL; Skrzypiec, Grace

Poster (2015, May 21)

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See detailContributors to undergraduates' perception of skill acquisition across time
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Steffgen, Georges UL

in Journal of Education and Training Studies (2015), 3(5), 26-34

The present study examined the relation between the amount of years of study and the perception of skill acquisition through indicators of students’ satisfaction with the course program. It was ... [more ▼]

The present study examined the relation between the amount of years of study and the perception of skill acquisition through indicators of students’ satisfaction with the course program. It was hypothesized that the more years students spend at the university, the higher their perception of skill acquisition and that factors related to the course program moderate this relationship. Participants were 314 undergraduate students in psychology who completed the Bachelor Evaluation Questionnaire, which assessed the perceived quality of the course program. Factor analysis revealed that the questionnaire assessed five different factors: Teachers and teaching, Course climate, Learning promotion, Course requirements, and Skill acquisition. A sub-sample of 117 students, who evaluated the course on their first and again on their fifth semester, was used to examine the change on perception of skill acquisition and the influence of course related factors on that change. It was found that students’ perception of skill acquisition increased from first to fifth semester and that this increase was moderated by students’ perception of learning promotion. Those with early low perception of learning promotion were at greater disadvantage of increasing perceived skill acquisition during their studies. Those with early high learning promotion but with early low perception of skill acquisition at the beginning, reached similar levels of perceived skill acquisition by the end of their studies as those with early high perception of skill acquisition. The implications of these findings for theory and practice in relation to academic achievement are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailEmotion Regulation and Anger Expression in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Steffgen, Georges UL

Scientific Conference (2014, November)

Emotion regulation (ER) is an important aspect of children’s emotional and social development. It maximizes learning and allows the development of trusting relationships. ER is particularly relevant for ... [more ▼]

Emotion regulation (ER) is an important aspect of children’s emotional and social development. It maximizes learning and allows the development of trusting relationships. ER is particularly relevant for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Children with ASD have frequent behavioural disturbances that are believed to derive from low ER capacities. The main purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between ER and anger expression in children with ASD compared to typically developing (TD) children. Participants were 29 children aged from 5 to 12 years old. 8 children were diagnosed with ASD accompanied by intellectual and language impairments, 9 children were diagnosed with ASD without intellectual or language impairments, and 12 were TD children. ER was assessed by parents’ reports of their child’s ER and anger expression by the observation of children during a frustration-eliciting situation. Analyses of variance revealed that children with ASD were evaluated by their parents as having lower ER than TD children and, that children with ASD demonstrated more anger-related behaviours than TD children. However, no differences were found between the two groups of children with ASD for ER or anger expression. This shows that intellectual or language impairments in ASD are not key-factors on how parents perceive their children’s ER or on how they express anger. Moreover, a negative correlation was found between ER and expressed anger. These results stress the necessity of developing interventions for teaching adequate ER strategies to children with ASD. [less ▲]

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See detailFrustration and anger regulation in children with autism spectrum disorder
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Steffgen, Georges UL

Poster (2014, July)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication and difficulties regulating emotions. Emotion regulation is an important aspect of children’s emotional ... [more ▼]

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication and difficulties regulating emotions. Emotion regulation is an important aspect of children’s emotional and social development. It maximizes learning and allows the development of trusting relationships. In the present study we aimed at studying how children with ASD regulate frustration and anger. Participants were 17 children diagnosed with ASD aged between 5 and 12 years old (14 boys and 3 girls) and their parents. Emotion regulation was assessed by parents’ reports of their child’s emotion regulation (Emotion Regulation Checklist, Shields & Cicchetti, 1998) and through the observation of children during the episode “Attractive toy placed behind a barrier”. The purpose of this episode was to elicit frustration and anger by placing a toy, with which the child had been playing, behind a barrier. Anger was coded as verbal and physical action against the barrier or persons present. Results revealed that children with more autistic symptoms were evaluated by their parents as having more difficulties regulating their emotions. Furthermore, parents’ evaluations of their child’s emotion regulation were positively correlated to the expression of anger during the frustration and anger regulation episode. However, no significant differences were observed in terms of autistic symptoms during the frustration and anger regulation episode. In conclusion, results show that children with more autistic symptoms are seen by their parents as having more difficulties regulating their emotions but do not show differences in terms of their emotion regulation during a frustration and anger eliciting episode. [less ▲]

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See detailEffects of Autistic Traits on Emotion Regulation in Neurotypical Adults
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Steffgen, Georges UL

Poster (2014, May)

Background: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) seem to have lower emotion regulation competence (Samson, Huber, & Gross, 2012). It has been reported that ASD is a continuum of social ... [more ▼]

Background: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) seem to have lower emotion regulation competence (Samson, Huber, & Gross, 2012). It has been reported that ASD is a continuum of social-communication disability (Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Skinner, Martin, & Clubley, 2001) and that neurotypical individuals are also part of that continuum and have autistic traits. Therefore, neurotypical individuals with more autistic traits would be expected to have lower emotion regulation competence than those with less autistic traits. Additionally, low levels of resting heart rate variability (HRV) have been associated with poor social functioning and emotional rigidity (Butler, Wilhelm, & Gross, 2006), which characterize ASD. Consequently, it is hypothesized that neurotypical individuals with more autistic traits should also have lower resting HRV. Objectives: To analyse if neurotypical adults with more autistic traits use less efficient emotion regulation strategies and the relation to cardiac vagal control. Methods: 80 undergraduate students participated in the study. None of the participants had a diagnosis of ASD. Participants were requested to answer four questionnaires: the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ; Baron-Cohen et al., 2001), which comprises 50 items and assesses 5 autistic traits in the general population; the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS; Gratz & Roemer, 2004), which comprises 36 items and assesses 6 factors of emotional dysregulation; the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ; Gross & John, 2003), which comprises 10 items and assesses 2 emotion regulation strategies, cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression; and finally, the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20; Bagby, Parker, & Taylor, 1994), which comprises 20 items and assesses 3 factors of alexithymia. In the end, participants’ HRV was measured for 5 minutes. Results: Data collection is still being carried out and therefore definite results cannot be drawn. However, preliminary results seem to indicate that participants who have more autistic traits have in general more difficulties regulating their emotions. They use more often suppression than reappraisal as emotion regulation strategy and demonstrate more difficulties in two factors of the DERS (“Lack of emotional awareness” and “Lack of emotional clarity”). Results also seem to indicate that those with more autistic traits have a higher score in alexithymia. Concerning HRV, preliminary results indicate that those with more autistic traits have higher resting HRV. Conclusions: Preliminary results indicate that, neurotypical individuals who have more autistic traits have a less adaptive emotion regulation profile compared to neurotypical individuals with less autistic traits. They use more frequently expressive suppression and less frequently cognitive reappraisal and have more difficulties understanding and being aware of their emotions. This could be explained by the fact that, similarly to individuals with ASD, neurotypical individuals with more autistic traits have more difficulties taking another person mental perspective. This is also supported by findings that those with more autistic traits have a higher score in alexithymia, showing that they have more difficulties identifying and describing emotions. The unexpected HRV result might be explained by differences in the pattern of physiological responding (Zahn, Rumsey, & Kammen, 1987). [less ▲]

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See detailEmotion regulation in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A review
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Steffgen, Georges UL

Poster (2013, October)

Introduction: Emotion regulation is an important aspect of children emotional and social development. Especially, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) seem to be at a disadvantage regarding ... [more ▼]

Introduction: Emotion regulation is an important aspect of children emotional and social development. Especially, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) seem to be at a disadvantage regarding emotion regulation due to social interaction difficulties. In the present study we review the research findings on the specific emotion regulation strategies in children with ASD. Participants and Methods: We carried out literature searches using Primo Central ExLibris for all articles published on emotion regulation in children with ASD since 2003. Articles were included if they met the following criteria: a) comprised participants with ASD under the age of 18 years; b) contained empirical research findings on emotion regulation; and c) used a prospective group comparison design. At the end, the review includes 12 independent studies. Results: In general, findings indicate that children with ASD use less emotion regulation strategies than typically developing peers. However, some studies prove less efficient strategies in children with ASD, while others did not find differences. In studies analysing the impact of interventions, children show diminished expression of negativity and more appropriate emotion regulation during post-treatment. Conclusion: Emotion regulation difficulties are a serious concern for children with ASD, yet empirical studies on this topic are still scarce. More studies with larger samples are needed. Especially, other characteristics, such as social interaction and caregiver’s intervention, that might influence emotion regulation have to be further analysed. [less ▲]

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See detailAutistic traits and emotion regulation
Pinto Costa, Andreia UL; Steffgen, Georges UL

Poster (2013, September)

Introduction: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) seem to have lower emotion regulation competence than typically developing individuals; they use more frequently suppression than reappraisal ... [more ▼]

Introduction: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) seem to have lower emotion regulation competence than typically developing individuals; they use more frequently suppression than reappraisal (Samson, Huber, & Gross, 2012). Additionally, low levels of resting heart rate variability (HRV) have been associated with poor social functioning and emotional rigidity (Butler, Wilhelm, & Gross, 2006), which characterize individuals with ASD. Therefore, it is hypothesized that typically developing individuals with more autistic traits use more frequently suppression instead of reappraisal and have lower resting HRV. Methodology: 66 students (age: M=21.73, SD=2.49) participated in the study. Firstly, participants resting HRV was measured for 5 minutes. Afterwards, participants watched 5 videos of one minute long each (Gross & Levenson, 1995). Two videos were used to elicit disgust and three were neutral. After each video, participants completed a questionnaire about the emotions felt during the video (Ekman, Friesen, & Ancoli, 1980; adapted by Gross & Levenson, 1993). Finally, participants completed the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ; Baron-Cohen et al., 2001), and the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ; Gross & John, 2003). Results: Participants who used more frequently suppression had more autistic traits (M=20.13, SD=4.73) than those who used more frequently reappraisal (M=15.06, SD=4.50; t(64)=3.80, p<.001). Furthermore, the more autistic traits participants had, the more they rated their emotions during the disgust-eliciting videos as pleasant (r(57)=.295, p<.05), and the more they reported feeling positive emotions (r(63)=.262, p<.05). However, no correlation was found regarding negative emotions. Concerning resting HRV participants with more autistic traits had higher HRV (r(47)=.29, p<.05). Conclusions: Similarly to individuals with ASD, typically developing individuals with more autistic traits used more frequently suppression, demonstrating less emotion regulation competence. The reported higher rates of pleasantness during the disgust-eliciting videos and the overall experience of more positive emotions can be interpreted as a lack of cognitive empathy (Baron-Cohen & Wheelwright, 2004). The unexpected resting HRV result might be explained by differences in the pattern of physiological responding (Zahn, Rumsey, & Kammen, 1987). [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 75 (12 UL)