OBJECTIVE. We examined problem behavior in preschool- and school-age children with autism spectrum disorder and assessed whether sensory processing dysfunction (SPD) and parenting stress were differentially associated with problem behaviors in these groups of children.

METHOD. Participants were 101 preschool- and 61 school-age children. An independent t test was used to examine group differences in problem behaviors. Pearson correlation analysis and multiple linear regression were conducted to identify associations among SPD, parenting stress, and problem behaviors.

RESULTS. Preschool children had more social withdrawal than school-age children. Moderately negative correlations were found between SPD and problem behaviors among preschool children. Parenting stress was a factor associated with problem behaviors in both groups, whereas SPD was a factor specific to preschoolers.

CONCLUSION. Understanding unique problem behaviors and the significant role of SPD and parenting stress in problem behaviors could help occupational therapy clinicians plan interventions accordingly.

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