The aim of the present study was to compare the broader autism phenotype in Iranian parents of children with autism spectrum disorders and parents of typically developing children.
Parents of children with ASD and parents of typically developing children were asked to complete the Persian version of the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ). In the ASD group, families included 204 parents (96 fathers and 108 mothers) of children diagnosed as having autism (Autistic Disorder, or AD) (n=124), Asperger Syndrome (AS) or High Functioning Autism (HFA) (n=48) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) (n=32) by psychiatrists based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-4thedition (DSM-IV-TR) criteria. In the control group, 210 (108 fathers and 102 mothers) parents of typically developing children. Parents of typically developing children were selected from four primary schools. Based on family reports, their children did not have any psychiatric problems. Total AQ score and each of the 5 subscales were analyzed using two-way ANOVAs with sex and group as factors.
The mean age of ASD fathers was 40.6 years (SD=5.96; range 31-54), and of ASD mothers was 34.7 years (SD=4.55; range 28-45). The mean age of control fathers was 37 years (SD=4.6; range 29-45) and of control mothers was 34.11 years (SD=4.86; range 28-45). Group differences were found in age (p ‹ 0/001). On total AQ, a main effect for group and sex was found. ASD parents scored higher than controls (F(1,410)=77.876, P ‹ 0/001) and males scored higher than females (F(1,410)=23.324, P ‹ 0/001). Also, Group by Sex interaction was significant (F(1,410)=4.986, P ‹ 0/05). Results of MANOVA analysis displayed significant differences between ASD's subgroups on total AQ and subscales scores (F (15, 1121)=13.924, p < 0.0005; Wilk's Lambda= 0.624, partial =0.145). Pairwise comparisons between ASD's subgroups and Normal group showed that mean scores for the Asperger group are significantly more than other groups in total AQ, attention switching and communication subscales (p < 0.05). The frequencies of BAP (X^2=52.721 (DF=1), P ‹ 0/001), MAP (X^2=17.133 (DF=1), P ‹ 0/001) and NAP (X^2=12.722 (DF=1), P ‹ 0/001) in ASD parents were significantly more than control parents. The frequencies of Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP) (X^2=3.842 (DF=1), P›0/05) and Medium Autism phenotype (MAP) (X^2=0.060 (DF=1), P›0/05) did not significantly differ in ASD fathers and mothers, but the proportion of fathers in Narrow Autism Phenotype(NAP) range was more than mothers (X2=14.344, P ‹ 0/001).
Results of the present study revealed that parents of children with ASD scored significantly higher than control parents on total AQ and its subscales and the rates of BAP, MAP and NAP were higher in ASD parents than in controls. In addition, in ASD's subgroups, the parents of Asperger children scored significantly more than other subgroups (Autism and PDD-nos) and the normal group on total AQ and some subscales.
Autistic disorder; Child; Iran; Parents
The Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) is a self-report questionnaire for quantifying autistic traits. This study tests whether the AQ can differentiate between parents of children with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) and control parents. In this paper, the use of the AQ to define the broader, medium and narrow autism phenotypes (BAP, MAP, NAP) is reported, and the proportion of parents with each phenotype is compared between the two groups.
A sample of 571 fathers and 1429 mothers of children with an ASC completed the AQ, along with 349 fathers and 658 mothers of developing typically children.
Both mothers and fathers of the diagnosed children scored higher than the control parents on total AQ score and on four out of five of the subscales. Additionally, there were more parents of diagnosed children with a BAP, MAP or NAP.
The AQ provides an efficient method for quantifying where an individual lies along the dimension of autistic traits, and extends the notion of a broader phenotype among first-degree relatives of those with ASC. The AQ is likely to have many applications, including population and clinical screening, and stratification in genetic studies.
Perceptual mechanisms are generally flexible or “adaptive”, as evidenced by perceptual aftereffects: distortions that arise following exposure to a stimulus. We examined whether adaptive mechanisms for coding gaze direction are atypical in children diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition. Twenty-four typical children and 24 children with autism, of similar age and ability, were administered a developmentally sensitive eye-gaze adaptation task. In the pre-adaptation phase, children judged whether target faces showing subtle deviations in eye-gaze direction were looking leftwards, rightwards or straight-ahead. Next, children were adapted to faces gazing in one consistent direction (25° leftwards/rightwards) before categorising the direction of the target faces again. Children with autism showed difficulties in judging whether subtle deviations in gaze were directed to the left, right or straight-ahead relative to typical children. Although adaptation to leftward or rightward gaze resulted in reduced sensitivity to gaze on the adapted side for both groups, the aftereffect was significantly reduced in children with autism. Furthermore, the magnitude of children's gaze aftereffects was positively related to their ability to categorise gaze direction. These results show that the mechanisms coding gaze are less flexible in autism and offer a potential new explanation for these children's difficulties discriminating subtle deviations in gaze direction.
•Adaptive mechanisms are fundamental for perceptual coding.•We found adaptation to gaze direction was significantly attenuated in autism.•The degree of adaptation was also linked to children's gaze acuity.•This study provides potential evidence for the functional benefits of adaptation.
Autism; Gaze; Adaptation; Aftereffect; Vision
Parents of children with autism report high rates of stress. Parental differences in stress are inconsistent, with most research demonstrating that mothers report higher levels of stress than fathers. This study explored parental differences pre-post an interdisciplinary in-home training program. Fathers of children with autism were taught an intervention designed to improve their child's social reciprocity and communication, and then trained the mothers. Stress through the PSI and family dynamics through the FACES-II was assessed. Pre-intervention, both mothers and fathers reported high levels of stress. Post-intervention, father's stress was reduced, but did not show significance possibly due to the variability in their scores; mothers’ stress scores reduced significantly. Parenting styles were significantly different pre and post intervention. Based on subscale scores on the FACES-II, mothers were more adaptable, while fathers were more structured. Interdisciplinary teams, including OT's, nurses and special educators, can work together to provide early intervention and positively impact the lives of families of children with autism.
Eye tracking has been used to investigate gaze behaviours in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, traditional analysis has yet to find behavioural characteristics shared by both children and adults with ASD. To distinguish core ASD gaze behaviours from those that change with development, we examined temporo-spatial gaze patterns in children and adults with and without ASD while they viewed video clips. We summarized the gaze patterns of 104 participants using multidimensional scaling so that participants with similar gaze patterns would cluster together in a two-dimensional plane. Control participants clustered in the centre, reflecting a standard gaze behaviour, whereas participants with ASD were distributed around the periphery. Moreover, children and adults were separated on the plane, thereby showing a clear effect of development on gaze behaviours. Post hoc frame-by-frame analyses revealed the following findings: (i) both ASD groups shifted their gaze away from a speaker earlier than the control groups; (ii) both ASD groups showed a particular preference for letters; and (iii) typical infants preferred to watch the mouth rather than the eyes during speech, a preference that reversed with development. These results highlight the importance of taking the effect of development into account when addressing gaze behaviours characteristic of ASD.
eye tracking; eye movements; autism; development; mouth viewing; turn taking
Literature regarding fathers of children with autism remains sparse, and because mothers are the more common intervening parent, few training methods have focused on fathers. Thus, we sought to evaluate effects of in-home training directed at fathers and their ability to train mothers in the same manner in which they were trained. Fathers were taught four skills commonly associated with in-home training interventions for parents of children with autism: following the child’s lead, imitation with animation, commenting on the child, and expectant waiting. Father skills were evaluated twice a week for 12 weeks during videotaped in-home father–child play sessions. Analyses included visual inspection of graphed data and statistical analyses of father skill acquisition, mother skill acquisition, and child behaviors with both parents. A multivariate repeated measures analysis of 18 dyads revealed significant increases in frequencies of fathers’ imitation with animation, expectant waiting, and commenting on the child. Child initiating rates increased significantly as did frequencies of child non-speech vocalizations. Analysis of mothers revealed significant increases in frequencies of imitation with animation, expectant waiting, and following the child’s lead. Child behaviors had similar results for father and mother sessions. Findings are consistent with those from our first study indicating that fathers can effectively implement skills that promote father–child social interactions and that children respond positively to this approach.
Autism; Fathers; Parent training
The onset of autism is usually conceptualized as occurring in one of two patterns, an early onset and a regressive pattern. This study examined the number and shape of trajectories of symptom onset evident in coded home movies of children with autism and examined their correspondence with parent report of onset.
Four social-communicative behaviors were coded from the home video of children with autism (n = 52) or typical development (n = 23). All home video from 6 through 24 months of age was coded (3199 segments). Latent class modeling was used to characterize trajectories and determine the optimal number needed to describe the coded home video. These trajectories were then compared to parent report of onset patterns, as defined by the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised.
A three trajectory model best fit the data from the participants with autism. One trajectory displayed low levels of social-communication across time. A second trajectory displayed high levels of social-communication early in life, followed by a significant decline over time. A third trajectory displayed initial levels of behavior that were similar to the typically developing group, but little progress in social-communication with age. There was poor correspondence between home video-based trajectories and parent report of onset.
More than two onset categories may be needed to describe the ways in which symptoms emerge in children with autism. There is low agreement between parent report and home video, suggesting that methods for improving parent report of early development must be developed.
Autism; regression; onset; parent report
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are impaired in visually disengaging attention in both social and non-social contexts, impairments that may, in subtler form, also affect the infant siblings of children with an ASD (ASD-sibs). We investigated patterns of visual attention (gazing) in six-month-old ASD-sibs (n = 17) and the siblings of typically developing children (COMP-sibs; n =17) during the Face-to-Face/Still-Face Protocol (FFSF), in which parents are sequentially responsive, nonresponsive, and responsive to their infants. Throughout the protocol, ASD-sibs shifted their gaze to and from their parents' faces less frequently than did COMP-sibs. The mean durations of ASD-sibs’ gazes away from their parents' faces were longer than those of COMP-sibs. ASD-sibs and COMP-sibs did not differ in the mean durations of gazes at their parents' faces. In sum, ASD-sibs showed no deficits in visual interest to their parents’ faces, but greater interest than COMP-sibs in non-face stimuli.
autism spectrum disorders; siblings; at-risk; disengagement; early deficits
We examined functional connectivity of the amygdala in preadolescent children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) during spontaneous attention to eye-gaze in emotional faces. Children responded to a target word (“LEFT/RIGHT”) printed on angry or fearful faces looking in a direction that was congruent, incongruent, or neutral with the target word. Despite being irrelevant to the task, gaze-direction facilitated (Congruent > Neutral) or interfered with (Incongruent > Congruent) performance in both groups. Despite similar behavioral performance, amygdala-connectivity was atypical and more widespread in children with ASD. In control children, the amygdala was more strongly connected with an emotional cognitive control region (subgenual cingulate) during interference, while during facilitation, no regions showed greater amygdala connectivity than in ASD children. In contrast, in children with ASD the amygdala was more strongly connected to salience and cognitive control regions (posterior and dorsal cingulate) during facilitation and with regions involved in gaze processing (superior temporal sulcus), cognitive control (inferior frontal gyrus), and processing of viscerally salient information (pregenual cingulate, anterior insula, and thalamus) during interference. These findings showing more widespread connectivity of the amygdala extend past findings of atypical functional anatomy of eye-gaze processing in children with ASD and challenge views of general underconnectivity in ASD.
Parent and teacher ratings of core attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, as well as behavioral and emotional problems commonly comorbid with ADHD, were compared in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Participants were 86 children (66 boys; mean: age=9.3 years, intelligence quotient [IQ]=84) who met American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. (DSM-IV) criteria for an ASD on the Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised (ADI-R) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Parent and teacher behavioral ratings were compared on the Conners' Parent and Teacher Rating Scales (CPRS-R; CTRS-R). The degree to which age, ASD subtype, severity of autistic symptomatology, and medication status mediated this relationship was also examined.
Significant positive correlations between parent and teacher ratings suggest that a child's core ADHD symptoms—as well as closely related externalizing symptoms—are perceived similarly by parents and teachers. With the exception of oppositional behavior, there was no significant effect of age, gender, ASD subtype, or autism severity on the relationship between parent and teacher ratings. In general, parents rated children as having more severe symptomatology than did teachers. Patterns of parent and teacher ratings were highly correlated, both for children who were receiving medication, and for children who were not.
Parents and teachers perceived core symptoms of ADHD and closely-related externalizing problems in a similar manner, but there is less agreement on ratings of internalizing problems (e.g., anxiety). The clinical implication of these findings is that both parents and teachers provide important behavioral information about children with ASD. However, when a clinician is unable to access teacher ratings (e.g., during school vacations), parent ratings can provide a reasonable estimate of the child's functioning in these domains in school. As such, parent ratings can be reliably used to make initial diagnostic and treatment decisions (e.g., medication treatment) regarding ADHD symptoms in children with ASDs.
Looking at other children’s interactions provides rich learning opportunities for a small child. How children with autism look at other children is largely unknown. Using eye tracking, we studied gaze performance in children with autism and neurotypical comparison children while they were watching videos of semi-naturalistic social interactions between young children. Using a novel, bottom-up approach we identified event-related measures that distinguished between groups with high accuracy. The observed effects remained in a subset of the total sample matched on IQ, and were replicated across several different stimuli. The described method facilitates the detection of meaningful patterns in complex eye tracking data. Also, the approach significantly improves visualization, which will help investigators understand, illustrate, and generate new hypotheses.
Learning; Eye tracking; Scientific visualization; Bottom-up; Knowledge generation; Autism spectrum disorder; Diagnosis; Attention; Social dominance; Social hierarchies; Conflict; Goals
Three young children diagnosed with autism did not reliably locate objects in the environment on the basis of an adult’s gaze shifts. A training program designed to teach gaze following used the activation of remote controlled mechanical toys as both prompts and consequences. Over several training sessions, toy activation was progressively delayed following the adult’s gaze-shift cues. All of the children eventually came to anticipate the toy activation and locate the target object on the basis of the adult’s gaze-shift cue alone. Discrimination of another person’s gaze direction is discussed in relation to joint attention deficits in children with autism.
Joint attention; gaze shift; gaze following; autism; children
It is unclear whether subclinical autistic traits at very young age are transient or stable, and have clinical relevance. This study investigated the relationship between early subclinical autistic traits and the occurrence of later developmental and behavioural problems as well as problems in cognitive and language functioning. Parents of infants aged 14–15 months from the general population completed the Early Screening of Autistic Traits Questionnaire (ESAT). Three groups of children with high, moderate, and low ESAT-scores (total n = 103) were selected. Follow-up assessments included the CBCL 1½–5 at age 3 years, and the SCQ, the ADI-R, the ADOS-G, a non-verbal intelligence test, and language tests for comprehension and production at age 4–5 years. None of the children met criteria for autism spectrum disorder at follow-up. Children with high ESAT-scores at 14–15 months showed significantly more internalizing and externalizing problems at age 3 years and scored significantly lower on language tests at age 4–5 years than children with moderate or low ESAT-scores. Further, significantly more children with high ESAT-scores (14/26, 53.8%) than with moderate and low ESAT-scores (5/36, 13.9% and 1/41, 2.4%, respectively) were in the high-risk/clinical range on one or more outcome domains (autistic symptoms, behavioural problems, cognitive and language abilities). Subclinical autistic traits at 14–15 months predict later behavioural problems and delays in cognitive and language functioning rather than later ASD-diagnoses. The theoretical implications of the findings lie in the pivotal role of early social and communication skills for the development of self-regulation of emotions and impulses. The practical implications bear on the early recognition of children at risk for behavioural problems and for language and cognitive problems.
Autistic traits; Behavioural problems; Cognitive abilities; Young children; General population
Abnormal eye contact is a core symptom of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), though little is understood of the neural bases of gaze processing in ASD. Competing hypotheses suggest that individuals with ASD avoid eye contact due to the anxiety-provoking nature of direct eye gaze or that eye-gaze cues hold less interest or significance to children with ASD. The current study examined the effects of gaze direction on neural processing of emotional faces in typically developing (TD) children and those with ASD. While undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), 16 high-functioning children and adolescents with ASD and 16 TD controls viewed a series of faces depicting emotional expressions with either direct or averted gaze. Children in both groups showed significant activity in visual-processing regions for both direct and averted gaze trials. However, there was a significant group by gaze interaction such that only TD children showed reliably greater activity in ventrolateral prefrontal cortex for direct versus averted gaze. The ASD group showed no difference between direct and averted gaze in response to faces conveying negative emotions. These results highlight the key role of eye gaze in signaling communicative intent and suggest altered processing of the emotional significance of direct gaze in children with ASD.
Autism; facial expression; functional magnetic resonance imaging; gaze; developmental neuroimaging
Visual behavior is known to be atypical in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Monitor-based eye-tracking studies have measured several of these atypicalities in individuals with Autism. While atypical behaviors are known to be accentuated during natural interactions, few studies have been made on gaze behavior in natural interactions. In this study we focused on i) whether the findings done in laboratory settings are also visible in a naturalistic interaction; ii) whether new atypical elements appear when studying visual behavior across the whole field of view.
Ten children with ASD and ten typically developing children participated in a dyadic interaction with an experimenter administering items from the Early Social Communication Scale (ESCS). The children wore a novel head-mounted eye-tracker, measuring gaze direction and presence of faces across the child's field of view. The analysis of gaze episodes to faces revealed that children with ASD looked significantly less and for shorter lapses of time at the experimenter. The analysis of gaze patterns across the child's field of view revealed that children with ASD looked downwards and made more extensive use of their lateral field of view when exploring the environment.
The data gathered in naturalistic settings confirm findings previously obtained only in monitor-based studies. Moreover, the study allowed to observe a generalized strategy of lateral gaze in children with ASD when they were looking at the objects in their environment.
This study investigated parents’ emotion-related beliefs, experience, and expression, and children’s recognition of their parents’ emotions with 40 parent-child dyads. Parents reported beliefs about danger and guidance of children’s emotions. While viewing emotion-eliciting film clips, parents self-reported their emotional experience and masking of emotion. Children and observers rated videos of parents watching emotion-eliciting film clips. Fathers reported more masking than mothers and their emotional expressions were more difficult for both observers and children to recognize compared with mothers’ emotional expressions. For fathers, but not mothers, showing clearer expressions was related to children’s general skill at recognizing emotional expressions. Parents who believe emotions are dangerous reported greater masking of emotional expression. Contrary to hypothesis, when parents strongly believe in guiding their child’s emotion socialization, children showed less accurate recognition of their parents’ emotions.
Parent; emotion; middle childhood; nonverbal communication
The ‘broader autism phenotype’ (BAP) refers to the mild expression of autistic-like traits in the relatives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Establishing the presence of ASD traits provides insight into which traits are heritable in ASD. Here, the ability to recognise facial identity was tested in 33 parents of ASD children.
Methodology and Results
In experiment 1, parents of ASD children completed the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT), and a questionnaire assessing the presence of autistic personality traits. The parents, particularly the fathers, were impaired on the CFMT, but there were no associations between face recognition ability and autistic personality traits. In experiment 2, parents and probands completed equivalent versions of a simple test of face matching. On this task, the parents were not impaired relative to typically developing controls, however the proband group was impaired. Crucially, the mothers' face matching scores correlated with the probands', even when performance on an equivalent test of matching non-face stimuli was controlled for.
Conclusions and Significance
Components of face recognition ability are impaired in some relatives of ASD individuals. Results suggest that face recognition skills are heritable in ASD, and genetic and environmental factors accounting for the pattern of heritability are discussed. In general, results demonstrate the importance of assessing the skill level in the proband when investigating particular characteristics of the BAP.
Although the extant literature on face recognition skills in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) shows clear impairments compared to typically developing controls (TDC) at the group level, the distribution of scores within ASD is broad. In the present research, we take a dimensional approach and explore how differences in social attention during an eye tracking experiment correlate with face recognition skills across ASD and TDC. Emotional discrimination and person identity perception face processing skills were assessed using the Let's Face It! Skills Battery in 110 children with and without ASD. Social attention was assessed using infrared eye gaze tracking during passive viewing of movies of facial expressions and objects displayed together on a computer screen. Face processing skills were significantly correlated with measures of attention to faces and with social skills as measured by the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ). Consistent with prior research, children with ASD scored significantly lower on face processing skills tests but, unexpectedly, group differences in amount of attention to faces (vs. objects) were not found. We discuss possible methodological contributions to this null finding. We also highlight the importance of a dimensional approach for understanding the developmental origins of reduced face perception skills, and emphasize the need for longitudinal research to truly understand how social motivation and social attention influence the development of social perceptual skills.
autism; eye tracking; face processing; eyetracking; autism spectrum disorder; ASD
In his original description of autism, Kanner  noted that the parents of autistic children often exhibited unusual social behavior themselves, consistent with what we now know about the high heritability of autism . We investigated this so-called “Broad Autism Phenotype” in the parents of children with autism, who themselves did not have a diagnosis of any psychiatric illness. Building on recent quantifications of social cognition in autism , we investigated face processing using the “Bubbles” method  to measure how viewers make use of information from specific facial features in order to judge emotions. Parents of autistic children who were assessed as socially aloof (N=15), a key component of the phenotype , showed a remarkable reduction in processing the eye region in faces, together with enhanced processing of the mouth, compared to a control group of parents of neurotypical children (N=20), as well as to non-aloof parents of autistic children (N=27, whose pattern of face processing was intermediate). The pattern of face processing seen in the Broad Autism Phenotype showed striking similarities to that previously reported to occur in autism , and for the first time provides a window into the endophenotype that may result from a subset of the genes that contribute to social cognition.
Little is known about the Quality of Life (QOL) in parents of children with developmental diseases as compared to other severe neurological or psychiatric disorders. Aims of the present study were: to evaluate QOL in parents of children affected by Pervasive Development Disorder (PDDs), Cerebral Palsy (CP) or Mental Retardation (MR) as compared to a control group (CG); to evaluate QOL of parents of patients with different types of PDDs, namely Autistic Disorder (AD), High Function Autism/Asperger Syndromes (HFA/AS) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PPD-NOS); and to compare the level of impairment in QOL of mothers and fathers within PDDs, CP, MR groups and between AD, HFA/AS, PDD-NOS sub-groups.
The sample consisted of 212 parents (115 mothers and 97 fathers) of 135 children or adolescents affected by PDDs, MR or CP. An additional sample of 77 parents (42 mothers and 35 fathers) of 48 healthy children was also included and used as a control group. QOL was assessed by the WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire.
Compared with parents of healthy children, parents in the PDDs group reported impairment in physical activity (p = 0.0001) and social relationships (p = 0.0001) and worse overall perception of their QOL (p = 0.0001) and health (p = 0.005). Scores in the physical (p = 0.0001), psychological (p = 0.0001) and social relationships domains (p = 0.0001) and in the physical (p = 0.0001) and social relationships (p = 0.0001) domains were lower compared to the MR group CP group respectively. Little differences were observed between MR, CP and control groups. The level of impairment of physical (p = 0.001) and psychological (p = 0.03) well-being were higher in mothers than in fathers in the PDDs and CP groups respectively; in the other groups, and across all the other domains of QQL impairment was similar. There were no statistically significant differences in the scores between the AD, HFA/AS and PDD-NOS sub-groups, but parents in the HFA/AS sub-group seemed to display a lower QOL compared to the AD sub-group.
Parents of children with PDDs seem to display a higher burden, probably for a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Within this group of parents also those of HFA or AS people have higher stress. These finding must be taken into account in policy making to provide better and more specific supports and interventions for this group of diseases.
The primary objective of the present study was to examine whether a combination of parent-child DRD4 genotypes results in more informative prognostic biomarkers of oppositional, separation anxiety, and repetitive behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Based on prior research indicating the 7-repeat allele as a potential risk variant, participants were sorted into one of four combinations of parent-child genotypes. Owing to the possibility of parent-of-origin effects, analyses were conducted separately for mother-child (MC) and father-child (FC) dyads. Mothers completed a validated DSM-IV-referenced rating scale. Partial eta-squared (ηp2) was used to determine the magnitude of group differences: 0.01–0.06=small, 0.06–0.14=moderate, and >0.14=large. Analyses indicated that children in MC dyads with matched genotypes had the least (7−/7−) and most (7+/7+) severe mother-rated oppositional-defiant (ηp2=0.11) and separation anxiety (ηp2=0.19) symptoms. Conversely, youths in FC dyads with matched genotypes had the least (7−/7−) and most (7+/7+) severe obsessive-compulsive behaviors (ηp2=0.19) and tics (ηp2=0.18). Youths whose parents were both noncarriers had less severe tics than peers with at least one parental carrier, and the effect size was large (ηp2=0.16). There was little evidence that noncarrier children were rated more severely by mothers who were carriers versus noncarriers. Transmission Disequilibrium Test analyses provided preliminary evidence for undertransmission of the 2-repeat allele in youths with more severe tics (p=0.02). Parent genotype may be helpful in constructing prognostic biomarkers for behavioral disturbances in ASD; however, findings are tentative pending replication with larger, independent samples.
autism spectrum disorder; DRD4; oppositional defiant disorder; separation anxiety disorder; obsessions-compulsions; tic disorder
Infants appear to be active participants in complex interactional sequences with their parents far earlier than previously theorized. In this report, we document the capacity of 3-month-old infants to share attention with two partners (mothers and fathers) simultaneously, and trace links between this capacity and early family group-level dynamics. During comprehensive evaluations of the family’s emergent coparenting alliance completed in 113 homes, we charted infants’ eye gaze patterns during two different mother-father-infant assessment paradigms. Triangular capacities (operationalized as the frequency of rapid multishift gaze transitions between parents during interactions) were stable across interaction context. Infants exhibiting more advanced triangular capacities belonged to families showing evidence of better coparental adjustment. Theoretical and practice implications of these findings are discussed.
Coparenting; Infants; Triangular Relationships
The purpose of this study was to compare a medical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with the perceptions of immigrant parents regarding their child’s difficulties.
Semistructured interviews were conducted with parents. The children were assessed using the ADOS, and a multiaxial diagnosis was reached using the DSM-IV.
The majority of parents recognized symptoms in their child that were related to autism. Less often, however, parents believed their children had a developmental delay or communication problem rather than an ASD. There were also parents who failed to see any problem at all in their child although the child was, nonetheless, diagnosed as having an ASD.
The failure of immigrant mothers to acknowledge a diagnosis of ASD in their younger children may represent an attempt to preserve hope for their child’s future. Mothers of older children may not, however, agree with the psychiatric diagnosis. Community services need to balance the need to convey accurate medical information with the need to protect parents’ investment in their children. This may be particularly true for immigrant parents who are living outside their cultural framework.
autism; diagnosis; parents; immigrant; perceptions; qualitative; autisme; diagnostic; parents; immigrants; perception; qualitatif
Recent research has suggested that the mode of inheritance for simplex autism (SA, one individual in the family affected) may be distinct from that for multiplex autism (MA, two or more individuals affected). Since sub clinical autistic traits have been observed in “unaffected” relatives of children with autism, we explored whether the distributions of such traits in families supported differential modes of genetic transmission for SA and MA autism.
We measured patterns of familial aggregation of quantitative autistic traits (QAT) in children and parents in 80 SA families and 210 MA families, using the Social Responsiveness Scale.
When considering all SA and MA siblings who scored below a uniform quantitative (clinical-level) severity threshold, MA brothers exhibited a distinct pathological shift in the distribution, compared to SA brothers (p<.0001). Such aggregation of QAT was also observed in fathers but not among females in MA families. Significant spousal correlations for QAT—suggestive of assortative mating—were observed in both SA and MA families, but neither group was characterized by a greater-than-chance level of concordant elevation among spousal pairs in this volunteer sample.
Among male first degree relatives, there exist distinct patterns of QAT manifestation for simplex versus multiplex autism. These findings are consistent with the results of molecular genetic studies that have suggested differential modes of intergenerational transmission for SA and MA. Characterization of QAT and other endophenotypes among close relatives may be useful for reducing sample heterogeneity in future genetic and neurobiologic studies of autism.
Pervasive Developmental Disorders; Genetics; Social Responsiveness Scale; Family Studies; Complex Disease
Mothers and fathers often disagree in their ratings of child behavior as evidenced clinically and supported by a substantial literature examining parental agreement on broadband rating scales. The present study examined mother-father agreement on DSM-based, ADHD symptom-specific ratings, as compared to agreement on broadband ratings of externalizing behavior. Using mother and father ratings from 324 children who participated in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD, parental agreement was computed and patterns of disagreement were examined. Mother-father ratings were significantly correlated. However, a clear pattern of higher ratings by mothers compared to fathers was present across ratings. Agreement on ADHD symptom-specific ratings was significantly lower than agreement for broadband externalizing behaviors or ODD symptoms. Of several moderator variables tested, parental stress was the only variable that predicted the discrepancy in ratings. Disagreement between parents is clinically significant and may pose complications to the diagnostic process.
ADHD; informant agreement; stress; MTA; assessment