At 6 months, development of children with autism like those without



The development of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)) is much like that of children without Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at 6 months of age, but differs afterwards. That's the main finding of the largest prospective, longitudinal study to date comparing children with early and later diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) with children without Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The study was conducted by researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Aging Brain Center at the Institute for Aging Research and Hebrew SeniorLife at Harvard Medical School.

The study sought to learn more about the patterns of development during the first three years of life in children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to better understand how Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can be detected as early as possible. It is the first prospective study to examine early-onset Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (by 14 months) and later-onset Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (after 14 months) over the first three years, pinpointing where development looks the same and where it diverges.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) comprises a group of disorders of brain development that affects about 1 in 88 American children.

Researchers looked at 235 primarily White children with and without an older sibling with autism, testing them at regular intervals from ages 6 to 36 months. Using standardized and play-based assessments, they tested children's fine motor skills, understanding of spoken language, and spoken language production skills. They also measured how often the children shared their emotions and initiated communication with others.

The study looked at early development across three groups: children without Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) who were identified by 14 months, and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) identified after 14 months. At 6 months, development within the early- and later-identified Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) groups was comparable to each other and to the non-Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) group. At 14 and 18 months, the early-identified Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) group performed below the later-identified Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) group in many aspects of development. By 24 to 36 months, the two groups showed similar levels of development.

"Results show that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) has a preclinical phase when detecting it may be difficult," explains Rebecca Landa, director of the Kennedy Krieger Institute's Center for Autism and Related Disorders and the study's lead author. "In some children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), early signs of developmental disruption may not be Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)-specific.

"Routinely administering general developmental screeners, such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, should begin in infancy, complemented by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)-specific screeners by 14 months," suggests Landa. "Screening should be repeated through early childhood. If concerning signs of delay associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are observed in a child who scores normally on standardized tests, further assessment is warranted."

Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development

Study Reference:
The study appears in the journal Child Development and has implications for clinical work, public health, and policy.

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