Social motivation is associated with elevated salivary cortisol in boys with an ASD
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Because social communication difficulties and stress are common in children with an ASD, and because it has been hypothesised that the two are related, the association between these two variables was investigated in a sample of 90 boys with an ASD and who were aged between 6 years and 12 years of age. The Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) was completed by the parents of these boys about their sons, plus salivary cortisol samples were collected from the boys. Results indicated that only one aspect of the boys' SRS was significantly correlated with cortisol—Social Motivation (SM). Factor analyses revealed two discrete aspects of SM and each showed different patterns of correlations with cortisol across the seven years of primary school. These results suggest that it was the change in social and teaching expectations that contributed to the variability in SM-cortisol correlations rather than the social expectations per se.
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