Personality and language characteristics in parents from multiple-incidence autism families

Am J Med Genet. 1997 Jul 25;74(4):398-411.


Several studies have suggested that the genetic liability for autism may be expressed in non-autistic relatives of autistic probands, in behavioral characteristics that are milder but qualitatively similar to the defining features of autism. We employ a variety of direct assessment approaches to examine both personality and language in parents ascertained through having two autistic children (multiple-incidence autism parents) and parents of Down syndrome probands. Multiple-incidence autism parents had higher rates of particular personality characteristics (rigidity, aloofness, hypersensitivity to criticism, and anxiousness), speech and pragmatic language deficits, and more limited friendships than parents in the comparison group. The implications of these findings for future genetic studies of autism are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Down Syndrome / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iowa / epidemiology
  • Language*
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Personality / genetics*
  • Personality Tests
  • Socioeconomic Factors