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Distinct developmental patterns identified in children with autism during their first 3 years
Date:10/30/2012

In the largest prospective study to date of children with early and later manifestation of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) compared to children without ASD, researchers found two distinct patterns of language, social and motor development in the children with ASD. Published in the journal Child Development, the study found that early in development, children who display early signs of ASD show greater initial delay across multiple aspects of development compared to children whose ASD symptoms emerge later. However at 36 months of age, the early differences between these groups are no longer obvious. By the third birthday, the level of impairment between these symptom onset groups of children with ASD is comparable. Additionally, researchers uncovered a preclinical phase of ASD in which the signs of delay are not easily detected with existing clinical tests.

Previous research by Kennedy Krieger Institute researchers found that approximately half of all children with ASD can be diagnosed around the first birthday, while the remaining half do not show diagnostic indicators until later. The current study builds upon these findings by further evaluating motor and language development in a wider age span of children diagnosed with ASD (6 to 36 months), and examining how development unfolds differently in each group.

"Regardless of diagnosis, the development of children with and without ASD appears similar at six months of age on clinical tests," says Dr. Rebecca Landa, lead author and director of Kennedy Krieger's Center for Autism and Related Disorders. "However, for those children who went on to develop autism, the earliest signs of atypical development were non-specific to autism, such as general communication or motor delay."

About the Study

Participants included 204 infant siblings of children with ASD, who are at a higher genetic risk for developing ASD, and 31 infants with no family history of ASD. The infants were
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Contact: Cynthia Chen
cchen@spectrumscience.com
909-762-6962
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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