Correlates of Delay of Gratification in Children with FASD
Authors:Jacquelyn Moffitt, Christopher Murakami, Audrey A. Rodriguez
- Rachel M. Fenning, Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Studies, California State University, Fullerton
- Jason K. Baker, Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Studies, California State University, Fullerton
Impulsivity and difficulties with self-regulation are hallmarks of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), and affected children are at high risk for developing antisocial behavior. We examined the ability of children with FASD to resist touching a desired, but prohibited, object as an index of self-regulation and moral internalization. Using a multi-method design, we considered key child (e.g., inhibitory control, emotion regulation) and environmental (maternal emotional scaffolding) correlates. The sample included 23 culturally diverse children (17 boys) between the ages of 4 and 9 years (M = 6.26), who met criteria for FASD according to the Astley 4-Digit System. Child IQ was assessed using the Stanford-Binet 5 Abbreviated Battery IQ and inhibitory control was indexed by the reversed commission error score from the computerized Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA). Maternal emotional scaffolding was rated from two parent-child problem-solving tasks and child emotion regulation was rated from a child-alone frustration task. Children’s ability to resist rule violation was obtained through a delay of gratification task in which children were presented with desirable toys and told not to touch them. Non-parametric statistics were prioritized given the relatively modest size of our unique sample. Latency to rule violation (seconds to touching the toys) was significantly correlated with both maternal scaffolding and child emotion regulation. Child inhibitory control was related to resistance to rule violation at the level of a trend, which increased to significance with scaffolding controlled. As predicted, child IQ was not associated with rule violation. The child factors were associated with each other, but not with maternal scaffolding, suggesting unique relations of child and family factors to children’s ability to resist rule violation. Implications for understanding regulation and moral development in FASD, and related possibilities for intervention, will be discussed.