A pilot study of maternal sensitivity in the context of emergent autism

Jason K. Baker, Daniel S. Messinger, Kara K. Lyons, Caroline J. Grantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Unstructured mother-toddler interactions were examined in 18-month-old high- and low-risk children subsequently diagnosed (n = 12) or not diagnosed (n = 21) with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at 36 months. Differences in maternal sensitivity were not found as a function of emergent ASD status. A differential-susceptibility moderation model of child risk guided investigations linking maternal sensitivity to child behavior and language growth. Group status moderated the relation between sensitivity and concurrent child behavior problems, with a positive association present for children with emergent ASD. Maternal sensitivity at 18 months predicted expressive language growth from age 2 to 3 years among children with emergent ASD only. Findings underscore the importance of understanding parent-child interaction during this key period in the development of autism symptomatology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)988-999
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Autism
  • Language
  • Parent-child interaction
  • Parenting
  • Risk
  • Sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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