The broad autism phenotype in real-life: Clinical and functional correlates of autism spectrum symptoms and rumination among parents of patients with autism spectrum disorder

Barbara Carpita, Claudia Carmassi, Sara Calderoni, Dario Muti, Alessia Muscarella, Gabriele Massimetti, Ivan M. Cremone, Camilla Gesi, Eugenia Conti, Filippo Muratori, Liliana Dell'Osso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective.Increasing literature reported higher rates of psychiatric disorders in parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as of autistic-like features in social and cognitive functioning. However, little attention has been paid to the association between autistic traits (AT) and global functioning in this population. The aim of the present work was to investigate clinical and functional correlates of AT among parents of ASD children, with a specific focus on ruminative thinking.Methods.One hundred and twenty parents of ASD children were assessed by the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the Adult Autism Subthreshold Spectrum (AdAS Spectrum), the Ruminative Response Scale (RRS), the Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale (SOFAS).Results.Subjects with at least 1 psychiatric disorder (39.2%) showed significantly higher AdAS Spectrum and RRS scores. Subjects with a history of school difficulties and with language development alterations scored significantly higher on specific AdAS Spectrum domains. A significant negative correlation was found between SOFAS and AdAS Spectrum scores, as well as between SOFAS and RRS scores. AdAS Spectrum nonverbal communication domain score was identified has a statistically predictive variable for the presence of psychiatric disorders and lower SOFAS scores. Finally, we found a significant indirect effect of AdAS total score on SOFAS score, which was fully mediated by RRS total score.Conclusions.AT in parents of ASD children seem to be associated with a higher vulnerability toward psychopathology and with a lower global functioning. Ruminative thinking may play a role in the relationship between AT and functional outcome.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCNS Spectrums
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • Broad autism phenotype
  • global functioning
  • parents
  • ruminative thinking
  • subthreshold autism spectrum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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