Traits contributing to the autistic spectrum

CD Steer, J Golding, PF Bolton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: It is increasingly recognised that traits associated with autism reflect a spectrum with no clear boundary between typical and atypical behaviour. Dimensional traits are needed to investigate the broader autism phenotype. METHODS AND PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Ninety-three individual measures reflecting components of social, communication and repetitive behaviours characterising autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) were identified between the ages of 6 months and 9 years from the ALSPAC database. Using missing value imputation, data for 13,138 children were analysed. Factor analysis suggested the existence of 7 factors explaining 85% of the variance. The factors were labelled: verbal ability, language acquisition, social understanding, semantic-pragmatic skills, repetitive-stereotyped behaviour, articulation and social inhibition. Four factors (1, 3, 5 and 7) were specific to ASD being more strongly associated with this phenotype than other co-morbid conditions while other factors were more associated with learning difficulties and specific language impairment. Nevertheless, all 7 factors contributed independently to the explanation of ASD (p
Translated title of the contributionTraits contributing to the autistic spectrum
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e12633
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


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    Golding, J.


    Project: Research

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