Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 191–200

Support for a Dimensional View of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Toddlers


    • Georgia State University
  • Diana L. Robins
    • Georgia State University
  • Lauren B. Adamson
    • Georgia State University
  • Roger Bakeman
    • Georgia State University
  • Christopher C. Henrich
    • Georgia State University
Original paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1230-0

Cite this article as:
Wiggins, L.D., Robins, D.L., Adamson, L.B. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2012) 42: 191. doi:10.1007/s10803-011-1230-0


We examined whether clinically distinct subgroups can be derived from a sample of toddlers (n = 186) who failed the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, received a comprehensive clinical evaluation, and were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Three subgroups emerged from cluster analysis distinguished by (a) social, communication, and intellectual skills and (b) the rate and intensity of repetitive behaviors and abnormal sensory response. Preoccupations, compulsions, and rituals did not distinguish resultant subgroups. These results support a dimensional diagnostic view of ASDs in toddlers since subgroup differences were based on symptom severity rather than different symptom profiles. Results also identify specific types and levels of behavioral deficit relevant to toddler populations. Implications for early diagnosis are discussed.


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)Early identificationEarly diagnosisCluster analysis

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011