Autism is frequently associated with difficulties with top-down attentional control, which impact on individuals’ mental health and quality of life. The developmental processes involved in these attentional difficulties are not well understood. Using a data-driven approach, 2 samples (N = 294 and 412) of infants at elevated and typical likelihood of autism were grouped according to profiles of parent report of attention at 10, 15 and 25 months. In contrast to the normative profile of increases in attentional control scores between infancy and toddlerhood, a minority (7–9%) showed plateauing attentional control scores between 10 and 25 months. Consistent with pre-registered hypotheses, plateaued growth of attentional control was associated with elevated autism and ADHD traits, and lower adaptive functioning at age 3 years.
- Atypical development
- Intermediate phenotype