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Autism Children can Be Diagnosed Within One Year of Age

Researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute recognize children with autism earlier than ever before, paving the way for earlier intervention and improved outcomes .

In a study published today in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland found that autism can be diagnosed at close to one year of age, which is the earliest the disorder has ever been diagnosed.

The study, which evaluated social and communication development in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from 14 to 36 months of age, revealed that approximately half of all children with autism can be diagnosed around the first birthday. The remaining half will be diagnosed later, and their development may unfold very differently than children whose ASD is diagnosable around the first birthday.

Early diagnosis of the disorder allows for early intervention, which can make a major difference in helping children with autism reach their full potential.

Researchers examined social and communication development in infants at high and low risk for ASD starting at 14 months of age and ending at 30 or 36 months (a small minority of the children exited the study at 30 months).

Half of the children with a final diagnosis of ASD made at 30 or 36 months of age had been diagnosed with the disorder at 14 months, and the other half were diagnosed after 14 months. Through repeated observation and the use of standardized tests of development, researchers identified, for the first time, disruptions in social, communication and play development that were indicative of ASD in 14-month olds.

Multiple signs indicating these developmental disruptions appear simultaneously in children with the disorder.

Dr. Rebecca Landa, lead study author and director of Kennedy Kriegers Center for Autism and Related Disorders, and her colleagues identified the following signs of developmental disruptio
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