Proband Mental Health Difficulties and Parental Stress Predict Mental Health in Toddlers at High-Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders Academic Article uri icon


  • Family-related predictors of mental health problems were investigated among 30 toddlers at familial high-risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and 28 controls followed from age 2- to 3-years. Parents completed the self-report Depression Anxiety Stress Scales and the parent-report Behavior Assessment System for Children. High-risk toddlers were assessed for ASD at 3-years. Parent stress and proband mental health difficulties predicted concurrent toddler mental health difficulties at 2-years, but only baseline proband internalising problems continued to predict toddler internalising problems at 3-years; high-risk status did not confer additional risk. Baseline toddler mental health difficulties robustly predicted later difficulties, while high-risk status and diagnostic outcome conferred no additional risk. A family systems perspective may be useful for understanding toddler mental health difficulties.

publication date

  • 2016