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Autism. 2019 May;23(4):811-820. doi: 10.1177/1362361318777484. Epub 2018 Jul 11.

A systematic review of parent-infant interaction in infants at risk of autism.

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Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.


Social communicative precursors to autism spectrum disorder may influence how infants who are later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder interact with their social partners and the responses they receive, thus bidirectionally influencing early social experience. This systematic review aimed to identify a developmental timeline for parent-infant interaction in the first 2 years of life in at-risk infants and in emergent autism spectrum disorder, and to examine any parent-infant interaction associations with later social-communicative outcomes. In total, 15 studies were identified investigating parent-infant interaction in infants at familial autism risk (i.e. with an older sibling with autism spectrum disorder). Starting from the latter part of the first year, infants at risk of autism spectrum disorder (and particularly infants with eventual autism spectrum disorder) showed parent-infant interaction differences from those with no eventual autism spectrum disorder, most notably in infant gesture use and dyadic qualities. While parental interactions did not differ by subsequent child autism spectrum disorder outcome, at-risk infants may receive different 'compensatory' socio-communicative inputs, and further work is needed to clarify their effects. Preliminary evidence links aspects of parent-infant interaction with later language outcomes. We discuss the potential role of parent-infant interaction in early parent-mediated intervention.


autistic spectrum disorders; developmental outcomes; high risk studies; parent–child interaction; parent–child relations


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