Caregiver psychological distress predicts temperament and social-emotional outcomes in infants with autism traits
Published July 2021
AbstractChild temperament and caregiver psychological distress have been independently associated with social-emotional difficulties among individuals with autism. However, the interrelationship among these risk factors has rarely been investigated. We explored the reciprocal interplay between child temperament (surgency, negative affectivity, and self-regulation) and caregiver psychological distress in the development of child internalizing and externalizing symptoms, in a cohort of 103 infants showing early autism traits. Caregivers completed questionnaires when children were aged around 12-months (Time 1 [T1]), 18-months (Time 2 [T2]), and 24-months (Time 3 [T3]). Cross-lagged path models revealed a significant pathway from T1 caregiver psychological distress through lower T2 child self-regulation to subsequently greater T3 child internalizing symptoms. No such caregiver-driven pathway was evident through T2 child negative affectivity or in the prediction of T3 child externalizing symptoms. Further, no support was found for temperament-driven pathways through caregiver psychological distress to child social-emotional difficulties. Child surgency was mostly unrelated to caregiver psychological distress and social-emotional difficulties. These findings implicate the need to support the mental health of caregivers with an infant with autism traits in order to enhance the emotion regulation and social-emotional development of their infants.
CitationChetcuti, L., Uljarević, M., Varcin,K., Boutrus, M., Pillar, S., Dimov, S., Barbaro, J., Dissanayake, C., Green, J., Wan, M.W., Segal, L., Slonims, V., Whitehouse, A.J.O. & Hudry, K. (2021). Caregiver psychological distress predicts temperament and social-emotional outcomes in infants with autism traits. Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, early online. doi: 10.1007/s10802-021-00838-5
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