Background and objectives: Previous research indicates that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face an increased risk of experiencing traumatic events. Autistic Traits (AT), characteristic of ASD, are continuously distributed across the general population. Our main objective was to examine the association between AT and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a topic rarely assessed before. Methods: One hundred and three college students from 3 academic areas, previously found to be associated with different degrees of AT, completed self-report questionnaires tapping PTSD (the PCL-5; PTSD Checklist for DSM-5), AT (AQ; the Autism Spectrum Quotient), and traumatic life events. Results: AT were positively associated with all PTSD symptom clusters, except for avoidance. The association between imagination difficulties and PTSD was moderated by gender. Among participants meeting the PTSD cutoff, those with the highest AT levels reported a PTSD symptomatic profile with an increased dominance of hyper-arousal symptoms. Conclusions: The AT-PTSD association reported here may be attributed to several factors, including increased victimization associated with AT, as well as shared vulnerability factors for both conditions, including impairments in social cognition. Further research is needed in order to understand the associations between these two conditions, considering gender differences, and possible shared underlying mechanisms.
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