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Study provides new insights into the implications of autism onset patterns
Date:4/20/2010

(Baltimore, MD) Kennedy Krieger Institute announced today new study results showing that when and how autism symptoms appear in the first three years of life has vital implications to a child's developmental, diagnostic, and educational outcomes. Published this month in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Epub ahead of print), this study found children with early developmental warning signs may actually be at lower risk for poor outcomes than children with less delayed early development who experience a loss or plateau in skills.

Researchers collected data from 2,720 parents through the Interactive Autism Network (www.ianproject.org), the nation's largest online autism research project. Through custom questionnaires and standardized rating scales, researchers examined differences in early milestone achievement (e.g., first words, walking, phrase speech, etc.), autism symptom severity and diagnosis, and educational supports between children with three different patterns of autism symptom onset:

  • Regression (n=44%): A loss of previously acquired social, communication or cognitive skills prior to 36 months
  • Plateau (n=17%): Display of only mild developmental delays until the child experiences a gradual to abrupt developmental halt that restricts further advancement of skills
  • No Loss and No Plateau (n=39%): Display of early warning signs of autism spectrum disorders without loss or plateau

Results from the study, currently the largest to have examined regression in autism spectrum disorders, provides strong evidence for poorer developmental outcomes in children who experienced regression, a controversial topic among autism researchers. More specifically, children with regression had a significant increase in severity of autism symptoms, the greatest risk for not attaining conversational speech, and were more likely than any other group to require increas
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Contact: Megan Lustig
mlustig@spectrumscience.com
202-955-6222 x2586
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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