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Feb 16, 2013

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Early Indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorders

There is now mounting evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of intensive early intervention using a range of behavioral and naturalistic approaches with a substantial proportion of young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Research indicates that intervention provided before age 3 1/2 has a much greater impact than that after age 5, which underscores the importance of improving early identification. In spite of the severity of the behavioral characteristics of most children with ASD, the average age for diagnosis in the United States is not until 3 to 4 years. Although there have been significant advances in genetic and biomedical research on ASD, there is currently no biological marker for either autism or ASD, therefore screening and diagnosis must be based on behavioral features. Purpose The purpose of this prospective, longitudinal study was to identify precise early indicators of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) during the second year of life by examining videotaped communication samples. Specific research objectives were: To examine the accuracy of the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile (CSBS DP) Infant-Toddler Checklist as a 1st stage screening tool for children with ASD; and To identify red flags for ASD from archival videotapes collected during the second year of life. Method PAR TICIPANTS: Three groups of children participated in this study: one with ASD (n = 18), one with developmental delays in which ASD was ruled out (DD; n = 18), and one with typical development (TD; n = 18). The participants in this study were drawn from a pool of children who are part of an ongoing longitudinal study of the FIRST WORDS Project. Children were recruited to the Project by having parents complete the CSBS DP Infant-Toddler Checklist distributed by childcare and healthcare agencies and by staff in public places that serve families of young children. The target population for screening is children who have not yet been identified as having a developmental delay. This investigation is reporting on findings of participants drawn from a pool of 3,021 children who were not previously identified (NPI) as having a developmental delay and were screened with the Infant-Toddler Checklist under two years of age. Additionally, five children who were developmentally delayed and had been identified (DDI) under the age of 2 years when referred to the Project were included in this study, three who received a diagnosis of ASD from a pediatric neurologist and two who had Down syndrome. These five DDI children were also screened with the Infant-Toddler Checklist under two years of age.  (Feb 20, 2013 | post #500)