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Are autistic traits in the general population stable across development?

Whitehouse, A.J.O. and Hickey, M. and Ronald, Angelica (2011) Are autistic traits in the general population stable across development? PLoS One 6 (8), ISSN 1932-6203.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0023029

Abstract

There is accumulating evidence that autistic traits (AT) are on a continuum in the general population, with clinical autism representing the extreme end of a quantitative distribution. While the nature and severity of symptoms in clinical autism are known to persist over time, no study has examined the long-term stability of AT among typically developing toddlers. The current investigation measured AT in 360 males and 400 males from the general population close to two decades apart, using the Pervasive Developmental Disorder subscale of the Child Behavior Checklist in early childhood (M = 2.14 years; SD = 0.15), and the Autism-Spectrum Quotient in early adulthood (M = 19.50 years; SD = 0.70). Items from each scale were further divided into social (difficulties with social interaction and communication) and non-social (restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests) AT. The association between child and adult measurements of AT as well the influence of potentially confounding sociodemographic, antenatal and obstetric variables were assessed using Pearson's correlations and linear regression. For males, Total AT in early childhood were positively correlated with total AT (r = .16, p = .002) and social AT (r = .16, p = .002) in adulthood. There was also a positive correlation for males between social AT measured in early childhood and Total (r = .17, p = .001) and social AT (r = .16, p = .002) measured in adulthood. Correlations for non-social AT did not achieve significance in males. Furthermore, there was no significant longitudinal association in AT observed for males or females. Despite the constraints of using different measures and different raters at the two ages, this study found modest developmental stability of social AT from early childhood to adulthood in boys.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2012 16:41
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/4715

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