, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 894-902
Date: 21 Sep 2013

Social Smiling and Its Components in High-Risk Infant Siblings Without Later ASD Symptomatology

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Impaired affective expression, including social smiling, is common in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and may represent an early marker for ASD in their infant siblings (Sibs-ASD). Social smiling and its component behaviors (eye contact and non-social smiling) were examined at 15 months in Sibs-ASD who demonstrated later ASD symptomatology (Sibs-ASD/AS), those who did not (Sibs-ASD/NS), and low-risk controls (Sibs-TD). Both Sibs-ASD subgroups demonstrated lower levels of social smiling than Sibs-TD, suggesting that early social smiling may reflect elevated genetic vulnerability rather than a specific marker for ASD. Only the Sibs-ASD/AS demonstrated less eye contact and non-social smiling than Sibs-TD, suggesting that different processes, threshold effects, or protective factors may underlie social smiling development in the two Sibs-ASD subgroups.