Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health

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Cradling bias is absent in children with autism spectrum disorders

Lea-Ann Pileggi, Susan Malcolm-Smith, Michelle Hoogenhout, Kevin GF Thomas, Mark Solms


Objective: This study investigated relations among empathy and cradling bias in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
Method: Twenty children with ASDs and 20 typically developing (TD) children, aged 5–15 years old, cradled a doll as if it were an infant s/he was putting to sleep on three separate occasions. We recorded side preference on each occasion.
Results: Children with ASDs showed no preference for cradling side whereas TD children showed a strong left-sided preference. To the best of our knowledge, children with ASDs are the only population that does not exhibit cradling bias.
Conclusion: An absence of cradling bias and empathy deficits in ASD may be related. If so, these data support the hypothesis that leftward cradling is a characteristic of enhanced quality of caregiver-infant interaction and bonding.

Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2013, 25(1): 55–60
AJOL African Journals Online