Early Social and Emotional Communication in the Infant Siblings of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Examination of the Broad Phenotype

J Autism Dev Disord. 2007 Jan;37(1):122-32. doi: 10.1007/s10803-006-0337-1. Epub 2006 Dec 21.


Infants with older siblings with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD-sibs) are at risk for socioemotional difficulties. ASD-sibs were compared to infants with typically developing older siblings (TD-sibs) using the face-to-face/still-face (FFSF) at 6 months and the Early Social Communication Scale (ESCS) at 8, 10, 12, 15, and/or 18 months. ASD-sibs smiled for a lower proportion of the FFSF than TD-sibs and lacked emotional continuity between episodes. With respect to TD-sibs, ASD-sibs engaged in lower rates of initiating joint attention at 15 months, lower rates of higher-level behavioral requests at 12 months, and responded to fewer joint attention bids at 18 months. The results suggest subtle, inconsistent, but multi-faceted deficits in emotional expression and referential communication in infants at-risk for ASDs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Communication*
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Phenotype*
  • Sibling Relations*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires