The Importance of Temperament for Understanding Early Manifestations of Autism Spectrum Disorder in High-Risk Infants

  • Sarah J. PatersonEmail author
  • Jason J. Wolff
  • Jed T. Elison
  • Breanna Winder-Patel
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
  • Annette Estes
  • Juhi Pandey
  • Robert T. Schultz
  • Kelly Botteron
  • Stephen R. Dager
  • Heather C. Hazlett
  • Joseph Piven
  • the IBIS Network
Original Paper


The present study investigated the relationship between infant temperament characteristics and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk status. Temperament was examined at 6, 12, and 24 months in 282 infants at high familial risk for ASD and 114 low-risk controls using the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised and Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire. Infants were divided into three groups at 24 months: High-Risk Positive—classified as ASD (HR Pos), High-Risk Negative (HR Neg), and Low-Risk Negative (LR Neg). At 6 and 12 months HR Pos infants exhibited lower Surgency and Regulatory Capacity than LR Neg infants. By 12 months they also demonstrated increased Negative Affect. Group differences remained, when early signs of ASD were controlled for, suggesting that temperament differences could be useful targets for understanding the development of ASD.


Temperament Infancy Autism spectrum disorder 



This study was supported by Grants from NIH/NIHCD (R01-HD055741, HD055741-S1) Autism Speaks, and the Simons Foundation to J. Piven and K01-MH101653 to J. Wolff. We sincerely thank our IBIS families for participating in this research. We are grateful to Robert Emerson for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

* IBIS Network: The IBIS (Infant Brain Imaging Study) Network is an NIH funded Autism Centers of Excellence project and consists of a consortium of 8 Universities in the U.S. and Canada. Clinical Sites: University of North Carolina: J. Piven (IBIS Network PI), H.C. Hazlett, C. Chappell; University of Washington: S. Dager, A. Estes, D. Shaw; Washington University: K. N. Botteron, R. C. McKinstry, J. Constantino, J. Pruett; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: R. T. Schultz, S. Paterson; University of Alberta: L. Zwaigenbaum; University of Minnesota: J. Elison. Data Coordinating Center: Montreal Neurological Institute: A.C. Evans, D. L. Collins, G. B. Pike, V. Fonov, P. Kostopoulos, S. Das. Image Processing Core: New York University: G. Gerig; University of North Carolina: M. Styner. Statistical Analysis Core: University of North Carolina: H. Gu.

Author Contributions

SJP, AE, LZ, RTS, JP, HCH, SRD, KB, JJW, JTE and JPn, contributed to the concept and design of the study, provided feedback, and reviewed the manuscript. SJP and JJW performed statistical analyses and interpreted the data. SJP, JJW, JTE, BWP, and JPn contributed to drafting and revising of the manuscript.


This study was funded by National Institutes of Health (R01-HD 055741, R01-HD055741-S1, K01-MH101653) and the Simons Foundation (SFARI Grant 140209) and Autism Speaks.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 34 kb)
10803_2019_4003_MOESM2_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 16 kb)
10803_2019_4003_MOESM3_ESM.doc (99 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOC 99 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah J. Paterson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jason J. Wolff
    • 3
  • Jed T. Elison
    • 4
  • Breanna Winder-Patel
    • 5
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
    • 6
  • Annette Estes
    • 7
  • Juhi Pandey
    • 2
    • 12
  • Robert T. Schultz
    • 2
    • 12
  • Kelly Botteron
    • 8
  • Stephen R. Dager
    • 9
  • Heather C. Hazlett
    • 10
    • 11
  • Joseph Piven
    • 10
    • 11
  • the IBIS Network
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Center for Autism ResearchThe Children’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Educational PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Child Development & Department of PediatricsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  5. 5.The MIND Institute, UC DavisSacramentoUSA
  6. 6.Department of PediatricsUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  7. 7.Department of Speech and Hearing SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  8. 8.Department of PsychiatryWashington University School of MedicineSt LouisUSA
  9. 9.Department of RadiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  10. 10.The Carolina Institute for Developmental DisabilitiesUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  11. 11.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  12. 12.Perelman School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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