Autism signs may be detected at age 12 months

November 11, 2008

Signs of autism may be visible in children as young as one year old, according to a study published in Autism.

Signs of autism may be visible in children as young as one year old, according to a study published in Autism.

Investigators studied 66 one-year-olds, 35 of whom had a sibling with autism or autism spectrum disorder, as they played with various objects. The children were then assigned to three groups based on assessments for autism at 24 and 35 months. Nine children met criteria for autism or autism spectrum disorder, 10 were diagnosed with other delays, while the remaining 47 did not have any concerns.

The researchers found that those in the autism group were significantly more likely to rotate, spin, and engage in unusual visual exploration of objects (such as looking at them with peripheral vision) than the group with other delays and the group with no concerns. There were no group diffirences in normal behaviors, such as banging, shaking, and mouthing the objects.

However, the group with other delays were significantly more likely to throw and roll objects than the group with no concerns.

The investigators concluded that the atypical play behaviors seen in their study might be useful to include in autism screening tests, although they noted that further research is needed to confirm the findings.