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Siblings of Autistic Children May Also Have Subtle Traits
Date:10/13/2010

addition to providing information about the children in their families who had been diagnosed with autism, some parents also completed a Social Responsiveness Scale questionnaire on each of the children living in their home between the ages of 4 and 18 years old.

A total of 1,235 families, including almost 3,000 children, provided all of the information necessary for the current study.

The study found that 10.9 percent of families had more than one child with an autism diagnosis, and an additional 20 percent had children who weren't diagnosed with autism, but who had language delays. Half of the group with language delays also had autistic qualities in their speech patterns.

The study also found that girls were more likely to have these subtle traits of potential autism spectrum disorder. They suggest that if these were taken into account, the current notion that there is a wide preponderance of boys versus girls diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder might narrow to as low as three boys for every two girls affected.

This study's findings also provide further evidence that autism spectrum disorders have, at least in part, a genetic basis, according to Constantino.

Scott Hunter, director of pediatric neuropsychology at the University of Chicago Medical Center, agreed that this study adds to the evidence suggesting that genes are one likely cause of autism spectrum disorders.

Because parents completed the questionnaires, this study wasn't able to determine if the siblings were experiencing a mild form of autism, or if these were isolated language delays.

Both experts thought that it would be a good idea for families with one autistic child to have their other children screened, and Hunter said that you should definitely seek a thorough evaluation if you notice any trouble in language acquisition in children who don't have autism.

"If you are a parent of a child with autism, it's probably important to talk to your
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