The study examines whether “optimal outcome” (OO) children, despite no longer meeting diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), exhibit personality traits often found in those with ASD. Nine zero acquaintance raters evaluated Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP) and Big Five personality traits of 22 OO individuals, 27 high functioning individuals with ASD (HFA), and 23 typically developing (TD) peers. HFA children displayed higher ratings than their peers on all BAP traits. OO were indistinguishable from TD, with the exception of greater extraversion (e.g., increased talkativeness), a potential tendency to be less emotionally stable, and pragmatic language deficits such as getting sidetracked in conversation. Overall, OO individuals are not showing BAP characteristics, but may be subject to other mild ADHD-like characteristics.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Ambady, N., Hallahan, M., & Rosenthal, R. (1995). On judging and being judged accurately in zero-acquaintance situations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(3), 518–529.
Ambady, N., & Rosenthal, R. (1992). Thin slices of expressive behavior as predictors of interpersonal consequences: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 111(2), 256–274.
Ambady, N., & Rosenthal, R. (1993). Half a minute: Predicting teacher evaluations from thin slices of nonverbal behavior and physical attractiveness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(3), 431–441.
Ames, D. R., Kammrath, L. K., Suppes, A., & Bolger, N. (2010). Not so fast: The (not-quite-complete) dissociation between accuracy and confidence in thin-slice impressions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(2), 264–277.
Anckarsäter, H., Stahlberg, O., Larson, T., Hakansson, C., Jutblad, S.-B., Niklasson, L., et al. (2006). The impact of ADHD and autism spectrum disorders on temperament, character, and personality development. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(7), 1239–1244.
Austin, E. J. (2005). Personality correlates of the broader autism phenotype as assessed by the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ). Personality and Individual Differences, 38(2), 451–460.
Borkenau, P., & Liebler, A. (1992). Trait inferences: Sources of validity at zero acquaintance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62(4), 645–657.
Cloninger, C. R., Svrakic, D. M., & Przybeck, T. R. (1993). A psychobiological model of temperament and character. Archives of General Psychiatry, 50(12), 975–990.
Constantino, J. N. (2011). Is autism a common personality trait? In S. Bölte & J. Hallmayer (Eds.), Autism spectrum conditions: FAQs on autism, Asperger syndrome, and atypical autism answered by international experts (pp. 24–26). Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe Publishing.
De Pauw, S. S. W., & Mervielde, I. (2010). Temperament, personality and developmental psychopathology: A review based on the conceptual dimensions underlying childhood traits. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 41(3), 313–329.
De Pauw, S. S. W., Mervielde, I., Van Leeuwen, K. G., & De Clercq, B. J. (2011). How temperament and personality contribute to the maladjustment of children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41(2), 196–212.
Fein, D., Barton, M., Eigsti, I.-M., Kelley, E., Naigles, L., Schultz, R. T., et al. (2013). Optimal outcome in individuals with a history of autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(2), 195–205. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12037.
Fein, D., Dixon, P., Paul, J., & Levin, H. (2005). Brief report: Pervasive developmental disorder can evolve into ADHD: Case illustrations. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 35(4), 525–534.
Fortenberry, C. L., Grist, C. L., & McCord, D. M. (2011). Personality trait differences between typically developing children and those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Individual Differences Research, 9(2), 73–83.
Gifford, R. (1994). A lens-mapping framework for understanding the encoding and decoding of interpersonal dispositions in nonverbal behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66(2), 398–412.
Goldberg, L. R. (1992). The development of markers for the big-five factor structure. Psychological Assessment, 4(1), 26–42.
Green, B. C., Johnson, K. A., & Bretherton, L. (2014). Pragmatic language difficulties in children with hyperactivity and attention problems: An integrated review. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 49(1), 15–29.
Helt, M., Kelley, E., Kinsbourne, M., Pandey, J., Boorstein, H., Herbert, M., et al. (2008). Can children with autism recover? If so, how? Neuropsychology Review, 18(4), 339–366.
Hill, E., Berthoz, S., & Frith, U. (2004). Brief report: Cognitive processing of own emotions in individuals with autistic spectrum disorder and in their relatives. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34(2), 229–235.
Holleran, S. E., Mehl, M. R., & Levitt, S. (2009). Eavesdropping on social life: The accuracy of stranger ratings of daily behavior from thin slices of natural conversations. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(4), 660–672.
Hurley, R. S. E., Losh, M., Parlier, M., Reznick, J. S., & Piven, J. (2007). The broad autism phenotype questionnaire. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(9), 1679–1690.
John, O. P., Donahue, E. M., & Kentle, R. L. (1991). The big five inventory-versions 4a and 54. Berkeley, CA: University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Personality and Social Research.
John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The big five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 102–138). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Kelley, E., Naigles, L., & Fein, D. (2010). An in-depth examination of optimal outcome children with a history of autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 4(3), 526–538.
Kelley, E., Paul, J. J., Fein, D., & Naigles, L. R. (2006). Residual language deficits in optimal outcome children with a history of autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(6), 807–828.
Kenny, D. A. (1991). A general model of consensus and accuracy in interpersonal perception. Psychological Review, 98(2), 155–163.
Kerekes, N., Brändström, S., Lundström, S., Råstam, M., Nilsson, T., & Anckarsäter, H. (2013). ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, temperament, and character: Phenotypical associations and etiology in a Swedish childhood twin study. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 54(8), 1140–1147.
Liss, M., Saulnier, C., Fein, D., & Kinsbourne, M. (2006). Sensory and attention abnormalities in autistic spectrum disorders. Autism, 10(2), 155–172.
Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, P. C., & Risi, S. (2000). Autism diagnostic observation schedule. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.
Malouff, J. M., Thorsteinsson, E. B., & Schutte, N. S. (2005). The relationship between the five-factor model of personality and symptoms of clinical disorders: A meta- analysis. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 27(2), 101–114.
Mast, M. S., Bangerter, A., Bulliard, C., & Aerni, G. (2011). How accurate are recruiters’ first impressions of applicants in employment interviews? International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 19(2), 198–208.
Murphy, M., Bolton, P. F., Pickles, A., Fombonne, E., Piven, J., & Rutter, M. (2000). Personality traits of the relatives of autistic probands. Psychological Medicine, 30(6), 1411–1424.
Naigles, L. R., Kelley, E., Troyb, E., & Fein, D. (2013). Residual difficulties with categorical induction in children with a history of autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders., 43, 2048–2061.
Orinstein, A. J., Helt, M., Troyb, E., Tyson, K. E., Barton, M. L., Eigsti, I.-M., et al. (2014). Intervention for optimal outcome in children and adolescents with a history of autism. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 35(4), 247–256.
Orinstein, A., Tyson, K. E., Suh, J., Troyb, E., Helt, M., Rosenthal, M., et al. (2015). Psychiatric symptoms in youth with a history of autism and optimal outcome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders., 45, 3703–3714.
Piven, J., Harper, J., Palmer, P., & Arndt, S. (1996). Course of behavioral change in autism: A retrospective study of high-IQ adolescents and adults. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 35(4), 523–529.
Piven, J., Palmer, P., Jacobi, D., Childress, D., & Arndt, S. (1997). Broader autism phenotype: Evidence from a family history study of multiple-incidence autism families. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(2), 185–190.
Prior, M., Eisenmajer, R., Leekam, S., Wing, L., Gould, J., Ong, B., et al. (1998). Are there subgroups within the autistic spectrum? A cluster analysis of a group of children with autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 39(6), 893–902.
Reiersen, A. M., Constantino, J. N., Volk, H. E., & Todd, R. D. (2007). Autistic traits in a population-based ADHD twin sample. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48(5), 464–472.
Ronald, A., Happé, F., & Plomin, R. (2005). The genetic relationship between individual differences in social and nonsocial behaviours characteristic of autism. Developmental Science, 8(5), 444–458. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2005.00433.x.
Ronald, A., Happé, F., Price, T. S., Baron-Cohen, S., & Plomin, R. (2006). Phenotypic and genetic overlap between autistic traits at the extremes of the general population. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 45(10), 1206–1214.
Sallows, G. O., & Graupner, T. D. (2005). Intensive behavioral treatment for children with autism: Four-year outcome and predictors. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 110(6), 417–438.
Schriber, R. A., Robins, R. W., & Solomon, M. (2014). Personality and self-insight in individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(1), 112–130.
Shrout, P. E., & Fleiss, J. L. (1979). Intraclass correlations: Uses in assessing reliability. Psychological Bulletin, 86, 420–428.
Sinzig, J., Walter, D., & Doepfner, M. (2009). Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: Symptom or syndrome? Journal of Attention Disorders, 13(2), 117–126.
Sparrow, S., Balla, D., & Cicchetti, D. (1984). The Vineland adaptive behavior scales. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.
Staikova, E., Gomes, H., Tartter, V., McCabe, A., & Halperin, J. M. (2013). Pragmatic deficits and social impairment in children with ADHD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(12), 1275–1283.
Suh, J., Eigsti, I.-M., Naigles, L., Barton, M., Kelley, E., & Fein, D. (2014). Narrative performance of optimal outcome children and adolescents with a history of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders., 44, 1681–1694.
Sutera, S., Pandey, J., Esser, E. L., Rosenthal, M. A., Wilson, L. B., Barton, M., et al. (2007). Predictors of optimal outcome in toddlers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(1), 98–107.
Thurman, A. J., McDuffie, A., Kover, S. T., Hagerman, R. J., & Abbeduto, L. (2015). Autism symptomatology in boys with fragile X syndrome: A cross sectional developmental trajectories comparison with nonsyndromic autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(9), 2816–2832.
Wakabayashi, A., Baron-Cohen, S., & Wheelwright, S. (2006). Are autistic traits an independent personality dimension? A study of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and the NEO-PI-R. Personality and Individual Differences, 41(5), 873–883.
Wechsler, D. (1999). Wechsler abbreviated scale of intelligence. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.
Wing, L., & Gould, J. (1979). Severe impairments of social interaction and associated abnormalities in children: Epidemiology and classification. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 9(1), 11–29.
Zappella, M. (2010). Autistic regression with and without EEG abnormalities followed by favourable outcome. Brain & Development, 32(9), 739–745.
We would like to thank Katherine Tyson, Eva Troyb, Michael Rosenthal, Molly Helt, Robert T. Schultz, and Michael C. Stevens for their assistance with this project, our undergraduate research assistants, the parents and children who participated in this study, and the funding agency, the National Institutes of Mental Health (R01MH076189).
This research formed the basis of JS’s Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. JS collected the data. AO, MB, CC, IME, NR, and DB made substantial contributions to the design, analysis and interpretation of the data, and manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.
About this article
Cite this article
Suh, J., Orinstein, A., Barton, M. et al. Ratings of Broader Autism Phenotype and Personality Traits in Optimal Outcomes from Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 46, 3505–3518 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2868-4
- Broader autism phenotype