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Autistic Traits in Parents of Children with Autism NOT ONLY Explained by the Burden of Chronic Disorder

Friday, 3 May 2013: 14:00-18:00
Banquet Hall (Kursaal Centre)
N. Gaddour, N. Boussaid, S. Missaoui and L. Gaha, University of Monastir, Monastir, Tunisia

In a previous study, higher figures of autistic traits in parents of affected children have been documented in comparison with parents of typically developing children. Among objections to that conclusion was possible explanation of some traits not necessarily by autistic traits but rather by anxio-depressive reactions to the chronic medical condition and disability in the child.

Objectives:  Aim of this study was to compare autistic traits in parents of children with autism spectrm disorders (ASD) and in parents of children with chronic medical conditions (CMD). 


A case control study was conducted at the child psychiatry clinic of University Hospital F. Bourguiba, Monastir, Tunisia comparing a group of parents of children with ASD, diagnosed with CARS and according to DSM IV (N=119) and a control group of parents of children with non neurodevelopmental CMD  (diabetes mellitus. asthma…) (N=71) Parents were assessed with the Adult Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) (Baron-Cohen et al. 2001) consisting in 50 quantitative items and 5 sub-scales (imagination, communication, local details, attention switching and socialization) 


Global AQ scores were higher in parents of children with ASD (20) in comparison with parents of children with CMD (16,14). Considering AQ subscales, significant differences were found for imagination, attention to detail and attention switching, but no significant difference was found for communication and socialization.

Conclusions:  These results mean that higher rates of autistic traits in parents of children with ASD are not explained by possible anxio-depressive reactions to the fact of having a child with a chronic medical condition, but with structural inherited traits.

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