Abstract Very preterm (VPT; textless 33 weeks’ gestation) toddlers screening positively for autism spectrum conditions (ASC) may display heterogenous neurodevelopmental trajectories. Here we studied neonatal brain volumes and childhood ASC traits evaluated with the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS-2) in VPT-born toddlers (N = 371; median age 20.17 months) sub-divided into three groups based on their Modified-Checklist for Autism in Toddlers scores. These were: those screening positively failing at least 2 critical items ( critical-positive ); failing any 3 items, but less than 2 critical items ( non-critical-positive ); and screening negatively. Critical-positive scorers had smaller neonatal cerebellar volumes compared to non-critical-positive and negative scorers. However, both positive screening groups exhibited higher childhood ASC traits compared to the negative screening group, suggesting distinct aetiological trajectories associated with ASC outcomes.