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Mol Autism. 2010 Jun 17;1(1):10. doi: 10.1186/2040-2392-1-10.

Defining the broader, medium and narrow autism phenotype among parents using the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ).

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Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Douglas House, 18b Trumpington Rd, Cambridge, CB2 8AH, UK.



The Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) is a self-report questionnaire for quantifying autistic traits. This study tests whether the AQ can differentiate between parents of children with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) and control parents. In this paper, the use of the AQ to define the broader, medium and narrow autism phenotypes (BAP, MAP, NAP) is reported, and the proportion of parents with each phenotype is compared between the two groups.


A sample of 571 fathers and 1429 mothers of children with an ASC completed the AQ, along with 349 fathers and 658 mothers of developing typically children.


Both mothers and fathers of the diagnosed children scored higher than the control parents on total AQ score and on four out of five of the subscales. Additionally, there were more parents of diagnosed children with a BAP, MAP or NAP.


The AQ provides an efficient method for quantifying where an individual lies along the dimension of autistic traits, and extends the notion of a broader phenotype among first-degree relatives of those with ASC. The AQ is likely to have many applications, including population and clinical screening, and stratification in genetic studies.

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