Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 757–769 | Cite as

Temperament and its Association with Autism Symptoms in a High-risk Population

  • Nancy GaronEmail author
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
  • Susan Bryson
  • Isabel M. Smith
  • Jessica Brian
  • Caroline Roncadin
  • Tracy Vaillancourt
  • Vickie Armstrong
  • Lori-Ann R. Sacrey
  • Wendy Roberts


Temperament was investigated in a group of high-risk infants (N = 383; 45 % girls) who had an older sibling with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and in community control infants (N = 162; 46 % girls) with no family history of ASD (low-risk). The infants were assessed at age 12 months using the Infant Behavior Questionnaire, and at 24 months using the Toddler Behavior Assessment Questionnaire. At 36 months, an independent blind diagnostic assessment for ASD was conducted using the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). The results indicate not only differences in temperament traits between the high- and low-risk groups, but also differences in the structure of higher-order temperament factors. The results support the importance of early reactive temperament in the development of Effortful Control in the high-risk sample. Furthermore, Effortful Control at 24 months appears to play a critical role in predicting later ASD symptoms (at 36 months). Taken together, these findings support the use of early temperament as an endophenotype for ASD.


Autism spectrum disorder Temperament Endophenotype Regulation 


This research was supported in part by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Autism Speaks Canada, and NeuroDevNet. Dr. Zwaigenbaum was supported by the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Autism Research. Drs. Bryson and Smith were supported by the Joan and Jack Craig Chair in Autism Research, Dr. Szatmari was supported by the Chedoke Health Chair in Child Psychiatry, and Dr. Vaillancourt was supported by a Canada Research Chair in Children’s Mental Health and Violence Protection. We also like to thank the children and families who have participated in this project.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Garon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
    • 2
    • 3
  • Susan Bryson
    • 4
  • Isabel M. Smith
    • 4
  • Jessica Brian
    • 5
    • 6
  • Caroline Roncadin
    • 7
  • Tracy Vaillancourt
    • 8
  • Vickie Armstrong
    • 4
  • Lori-Ann R. Sacrey
    • 2
  • Wendy Roberts
    • 6
    • 9
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentMount Allison UniversitySackvilleCanada
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Autism Research CentreGlenrose Rehabilitation HospitalEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.Dalhousie University/IWK Health CentreHalifaxCanada
  5. 5.Bloorview Research InstituteTorontoCanada
  6. 6.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  7. 7.Kinark Child and Family ServicesMarkhamCanada
  8. 8.University of OttawaOttawaCanada
  9. 9.The Hospital for Sick ChildrenTorontoCanada

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