Research by Topic: Early Intervention

Podcast: Autism diagnosed in school age, and does early intervention make a difference?

Published July 16, 2018

On this week’s podcast, highlights of a new systematic review on Early Intense Behavioral Intervention. Thank you to the ASF community for suggesting this topic for the podcast!

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ASF renews grant to expand Baby Sibs research

Published July 2, 2018

ASF is proud to announce continued support for the Baby Siblings Research Consortium (BSRC), a network of over 33 research sites around the world studying the younger siblings of people with autism. The Baby Sibs database now tracks over 5,000 younger siblings, with and without autism. The database has been used to develop more sophisticated […]

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Podcast: The infant brain on early behavioral intervention

Published March 6, 2017

The brain is developing even after birth. So interventions that are given very early have the best chance of remolding and rewiring a brain with autism to prevent autism-related disabilities. This week, a group from the University of London, Duke University, and University of Washington measured brain activity during tasks that required social attention following two […]

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A scary Halloween story about the media misrepresenting science

Published October 31, 2016

How long do you have to study an intervention to see if it works? Many scientists agree that it isn’t just about what happens in the short run, but if those interventions can be sustained for long periods of time. In the case of very early interventions, it is now clear that treatment for about […]

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Researchers discover genes that might enhance early intervention

Published April 12, 2016

The genetics of autism is complicated.  So scientists are taking a new approach.  Instead of looking at genes associated with the bigger autism diagnosis, researchers at the University of Miami are considering how genes influence specific autism features present very early on in life. In this week’s podcast, two investigators, Devon Gangi and Nicole McDonald, explore […]

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Teacher-Implemented Joint Attention Intervention: Pilot Randomized Controlled Study for Preschoolers with Autism

Published August 8, 2015 in J Consult Clin Psychol

This study investigated the effectiveness of public preschool teachers implementing a validated intervention (the Joint Attention and Symbolic Play/Engagement and Regulation intervention; JASP/ER) on a core deficit of autism, initiating joint attention.

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Longitudinal Follow-Up of Children with Autism Receiving Targeted Interventions on Joint Attention and Play

Published May 8, 2015 in J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry

This study examines the cognitive and language outcomes of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) over a 5-year period after receiving targeted early interventions that focused on joint attention and play skills.

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ASF Blog: A Rapidly Moving Field: Recent Findings in Infant and Toddler Interventions for ASD

Published May 7, 2015 in Autism Science Foundation

ASF Postdoctoral Fellow Jessica Bradshaw answers questions about infants with ASD: How do we know when to intervene? What are the best treatments? And do they work?

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Group Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Children with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders and Anxiety: A Randomized Trial

Published April 8, 2015 in J Child Psychol Psychiatry

Fifty children with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and anxiety were randomized to group Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT) or treatment-as-usual (TAU) for 12 weeks.

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Making the Connection: Randomized Controlled Trial of Social Skills at School for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published April 8, 2015 in J Child Psychol Psychiatry

This study compared two interventions for improving the social skills of high functioning children with autism spectrum disorders in general education classrooms. One intervention involved a peer-mediated approach (PEER) and the other involved a child-assisted approach (CHILD).

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New Publication Clears Up Confusion Around Different Brands of Early Intervention

Published March 4, 2015 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

A new paper brings together a group of autism researchers representing a range of views and diverse disciplines in order to develop a consensus statement regarding the empirical and theoretical bases of Natural Developmental Behavioral Interventions (NDBI). These are behavioral interventions that utilize applied behavioral analysis (ABA) approaches through naturalistic settings. ABA is oftentimes wrongly equated with a specific method, like discrete trial training rather than being understood as an umbrella of empirically based practices. In NDBIs, the ABA approach is presented in settings such as play and daily routines and use child directed strategies. The goal of this new paper was to describe the influences of both behavioral psychology and developmental science on the evolution of early intervention for ASD and their influence on effective, evidence-based NDBIs. The paper also evaluates various NDBIs available for young children with ASD, examining the historical context in which they have been developed, common characteristics of established, evidence-based NDBIs, and requisite features of NDBIs. Because this type of intervention has a strong research base, the demonstrated efficacy of this type of intervention needs to be shared with the research community and the public sector. It summarizes the work of many researchers, working in parallel in different locations and publishing independently on a wide range of NBDI approaches. The effectiveness of this wide range of approaches may not yet be known to parents, clinicians, physicians and funding agencies. It acknowledges a common nomenclature should be adopted rather than having differently named protocols which may confuse the public, including insurance organizations, health care providers, and parents.

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A Randomized Controlled Trial of Preschool-Based Joint Attention Intervention for Children with Autism

Published January 8, 2015 in J Child Psychol Psychiatry

Assess the effects of a preschool-based Joint Attention (JA)-intervention.

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Autism Treatment in the First Year of Life: A Pilot Study of Infant Start, a Parent-Implemented Intervention for Symptomatic Infants

Published September 9, 2014 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of California Davis MIND Institute and published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders suggests that very early intervention can greatly reduce symptoms of autism as children age. The study looked at a 12-week treatment program with seven infants aged 9 to 15 months; researchers followed the children until they were 3 years old. Over time, these children showed fewer symptoms of autism. Although the sample size was small and it was not a randomized study, this study indicates exciting results from this type of intervention.

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Motor Deficits Match Autism Severity

Published June 20, 2014 in Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

The severity of core autism symptoms in young children goes hand in hand with the degree of the childrens difficulty with motor tasks, according to a study published in the April issue of the Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly. Early interventions, such as therapies that target social and communicative behavior, may alter autisms course. Building strong motor skills may help children with autism develop better social and communicative skills, especially in physically demanding play, the researchers say.

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For Flagging Autism Risk, Using Two Tests is Best Option

Published June 20, 2014 in Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

The average child with autism is 18 months old before his or her parents first begin to be concerned. Given the importance of early intervention, its crucial that parents and doctors both catch on to the symptoms as soon as possible. A study published in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds that two autism screens are better than one at identifying toddlers who need specialized clinical services. These screens, such as the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) and the Early Screening of Autistic Traits (ESAT), are used not to diagnose autism, but rather to identify children who need more specialized attention for example, from a child psychiatrist or a behavioral therapist.

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Study of Nonverbal Autism Must Go Beyond Words, Experts Say

Published September 2, 2013 in Simons Foundation Autism Research Institute

About one fourth of people with autism are minimally verbal or nonverbal. Early intervention programs have been helping children develop language skills, but researchers say that seemingly unrelated issues such as motor skills and joint attention may hold the key to communication development.

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Ad Campaign Uses New Approach to Promote Early Autism Recognition in African-American and Hispanic Families

Published May 20, 2013 in The New York Times

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Special Issue on: School-based Research of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published May 1, 2013 in Autism

Autism Special Issue

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Preschool Based JASPER Intervention in Minimally Verbal Children with Autism: Pilot RCT

Published May 1, 2013 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

A recent pilot study linked the JASPER intervention (Joint Attention Symbolic Play Engagement and Regulation) to core deficit improvement in minimally verbal 3 to 5 year olds with autism.

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IACC News Update: IACC Recommends Public and Private Health Coverage for Early Behavioral Intervention for Children with ASD

Published March 25, 2013 in IACC

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Mothers Fight to Pass Ava’s Law for Autism Coverage

Published March 12, 2013 in CNN

“If passed, Ava’s Law would require insurance companies to pay for “evidence-driven treatment” — or treatment that’s been scientifically shown to help kids with an autism spectrum disorder. The law would not affect the self-insured plans offered by bigger companies, which cover about 60% of insured people in the state, according to the Georgia Office of Insurance.”

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Use of Social Stories to Improve Self-Regulation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published February 26, 2013 in Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics

Social stories, an intervention used to define a skill, concept or situation in socially appropriate terms, were used to promote self-regulation techniques in a self-contained preschool classroom. While implementation of self-regulation strategies varied among the children, all showed an increase in desired behaviors with the intervention.

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Beyond Autism: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium Study of High-risk Children at Three Years of Age

Published February 8, 2013 in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

This study is the first large-scale examination of ASD behavioral characteristics and developmental functioning in high-risk (HR), non-autistic 3-year-olds with siblings on the spectrum. 79% of HR children were either no different from low-risk children (LR; no known ASD family history) with respect to ASD behavioral severity and developmental functioning, or were developmentally on target with high levels of ASD-related behaviors. 21% of HR children with no ASD diagnosis had an “early manifestation” of a broad autism phenotype: high levels of ASD-related behaviors and/or low levels of verbal and nonverbal functioning. The authors highlight the importance of developmental surveillance and intervention for this HR subset.

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Decreased Spontaneous Attention to Social Scenes in 6-Month-Old Infants Later Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published January 14, 2013 in Biological Psychiatry

Yale researchers used eye-tracking technology to examine social monitoring skills of infants at high and low risk for autism. Compared to infants who developed typically, six-month olds later diagnosed with ASD looked less at the social scene, which involved a woman engaged in various activities. When they did attend to the social scene, they spent less time viewing the womans face.

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The Effects of A Weighted Vest on Aggressive and Self-injurious Behavior in a Child with Autism

Published January 2, 2013 in PubMed

Research finds that despite their frequent use, weighted vests have little effect on managing challenging behaviors in children with autism.

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Effectiveness of developmental screening in an urban setting

Published January 1, 2013 in Pediatrics

The goal of this study was to determine whether developmental screening could aid identification of developmental delays, early intervention referrals, and eligibility for early intervention. The study concluded that children who received developmental screening tests were identified for developmental delays, early intervention referrals, and early intervention eligibility services in a more timely fashion than those […]

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Why Are There So Many Unsubstantiated Treatments in Autism?

Published December 27, 2012 in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders

An estimated 32-92% of parents use complementary/alternative treatments for their children with ASD despite the lack of scientific evidence for the efficacy of these methods. In this article, researchers issue a call for a standardized way to select and evaluate treatments. Barriers to successful treatment, including high costs, limited availability, parental compliance and poor recommendations from professionals are discussed.

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Telehealth for Expanding the Reach of Early Autism Training to Parents

Published December 19, 2012 in Autism Research and Treatment

Telehealth interventions, the delivery of specialized services through communication technologies, may be a viable option for families of young children with ASD who have limited access to intervention services.

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Autism Interventions Supported by Moderate Evidence; Better Studies Needed to Validate Effectiveness

Published November 1, 2012 in RAND Corporation

Widely used autism interventions are supported by moderate evidence. Head-to-head trials of competing autism treatments are needed to identify which programs are superior and additional work should follow study participants long-term to further examine the effectiveness of treatments.

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Autism Developmental Delay Begins After 6 Months of Age

Published October 31, 2012 in Psych Central

A large, prospective study found that children with and without ASD were developmentally similar at 6 months based on clinical tests. Lead author Dr. Rebecca Landa reported, for those children who went on to develop autism, the earliest signs of atypical development were non-specific to autism, such as general communication or motor delay.

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Effects of a Brief Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)-Based Parent Intervention on Toddlers at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Published October 1, 2012 in Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Contrary to their hypothesis, Sally Rogers and colleagues found that toddlers with ASD in a brief, parent-delivered ESDM program did not make greater gains or show reduced core ASD symptoms compared to autistic toddlers in a community ESDM program. Study strongly suggests number of intervention hours and younger age at initiation are key to maximizing intervention benefits, even for 1 and 2 year olds. Authors say, the wait and see approach to early ASD must be replaced by an act now mentality.

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The CDCs Learning Connection Highlights ASD This Month

Published October 1, 2012 in CDC

CDC’s October Learning Connection highlights autism and features learning products and resources for healthcare providers and caretakers.

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The Development of Referential Communication and Autism Symptomatology in High-Risk Infants

Published October 1, 2012 in Infancy

This study suggests that non-verbal communication delays in infants with autistic siblings can predict later ASD symptoms.For a Science Daily article on this paper, click here:

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Differences in Autism Symptoms Between Minority and Non-Minority Toddlers

Published September 1, 2012 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Researchers discover gross motor, communication and language score differences between minority and non-minority toddlers with ASD. The authors suggest that due to cultural differences, minority parents may not seek intervention services until more significant delays are present. Methods to improve early identification in these groups are discussed.

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Early Behavioral Intervention is Associated with Normalized Brain Activity in Young Children with Autism

Published August 31, 2012 in Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

This randomized trial associated ESDM with normalized brain activity and behavioral improvements in young children with ASD.

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Researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston Identify Brain Activity Patterns Specific to Children with Autism

Published June 26, 2012 in Time

Study from Children’s Hospital Boston uses EEG to identify specific brain activity patterns in children with autism.

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Autism Scientists Search for Help, for Their Own Kids’ Sakes

Published May 22, 2012 in USA Today

The CDC now reports that 1 in 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder. Yale autism researcher Dr. Kevin Pelphrey is only one of many scientists who have a child with autism.

Autism Scientists Search for Help, for Their Own Kids' Sakes

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Study from Kennedy Krieger Institute Suggests that “Head Lag” Test Might Help Diagnose Autism

Published May 16, 2012 in

New study by Dr. Rebecca Landa of the Kennedy Krieger Institute suggests that “head lag” test might help diagnose autism.

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Autism science is moving ‘stunningly fast’

Published April 10, 2012 in USA Today

Researchers today also say they’re beginning to make progress, perhaps for the first time, in understanding the autistic brain.

Autism science is moving 'stunningly fast'

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What to Make of the New Autism Numbers

Published April 9, 2012 in Time Magazine

Evidence shows an increased number of autism diagnoses. There is the possibility that the increase in cases is entirely the result of better detection. Scientists must work to uncover the truth.

What to Make of the New Autism Numbers Read more:

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IACC Releases Its 2011 Summary of Advances in Autism Spectrum Disorder Research

Published April 2, 2012 in IACC

On April 2, in honor of the fifth annual World Autism Awareness Day and HHS Autism Awareness Month the IACC has released its annual list of scientific advances that represent significant progress in the field.

IACC Releases Its 2011 Summary of Advances in Autism Spectrum Disorder Research

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Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 14 Sites, United States, 2008

Published March 29, 2012 in MMWR (CDC)

Full text of today’s CDC report indicating 1 in 88 children is now diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

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Newly Published Genetics/Brain Tissue Study Will Help Refine the Search for Specific Early Genetic Markers of Risk of Autism in Babies and Toddlers

Published March 22, 2012 in PLoS Genetics

A new study of autism published today in PLoS Genetics has discovered abnormal gene activity and gene deletions in the same brain region that also has a 67% overabundance of brain cells. This region the prefrontal cortexis involved in social, emotional, communication and language skills. The finding brings new understanding of what early genetic abnormalities lead to excess brain cells and to the abnormal brain wiring that cause core symptoms in autism. Importantly, the study also shows that gene activity abnormalities in autism change across the lifespan.

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Autism Not Diagnosed As Early In Minority Children

Published February 28, 2012 in NPR

Early diagnosis is considered key for autism, but minority children tend to be diagnosed later than white children. Some new work is beginning to try to uncover why and to raise awareness of the warning signs so more parents know they can seek help even for a toddler.

Autism Not Diagnosed As Early In Minority Children

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Training Parents Is Good Medicine for Children With Autism Behavior Problems, Study Suggests

Published February 24, 2012 in Science Daily

Children with autism spectrum disorders who also have serious behavioral problems responded better to medication combined with training for their parents than to treatment with medication alone, Yale researchers and their colleagues report in the February issue of Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Training Parents Is Good Medicine for Children With Autism Behavior Problems, Study Suggests

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New Autism Research Reveals Brain Differences at 6 Months in Infants Who Develop Autism

Published February 17, 2012 in Center for Autism Research at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

A new study from the Infant Brain Imaging Network, which includes researchers at the Center for Autism Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), found significant differences in brain development starting at age 6 months in high-risk infants who later develop autism, compared to high-risk infants who did not develop autism.

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In the Brain, Signs of Autism as Early as 6 Months Old

Published January 30, 2012 in Science Daily

Measuring brain activity in infants as young as six months may help to predict the future development of autism symptoms.

In the Brain, Signs of Autism as Early as 6 Months Old

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New Report Examines Autism Needs for Patients and Families in Pennsylvania

Published January 28, 2012 in Health News

Results were released yesterday from the Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment, which includes feedback from 3,500 Pennsylvania caregivers and adults with autism, making it the largest study of its kind in the nation.

New Report Examines Autism Needs for Patients and Families in Pennsylvania

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Evaluation of a Parent-Based Behavioral Intervention Program for Children with Autism in a Low-Resource Setting

Published January 1, 2012 in Journal of Pediatric Neuroscience

Many countries do not have widely available or established resources for individuals with autism. This study from New Delhi, India examines parent-based intervention programs for children with autism in a low-resource setting.

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Trained Peers Better at Aiding Autistic Kids with Social Skills

Published December 1, 2011 in PsychCentral

A new study suggests training peers can help children with autism spectrum disorder improve their social skills, even more than a direct adult-led intervention.

Trained Peers Better at Aiding Autistic Kids with Social Skills

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Diagnosing Autism At A Younger Age Could Lead To Earlier Interventions

Published October 16, 2011 in Medical News Today

Autism is normally diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3, but new research is finding symptoms of autism spectrum disorders in babies as young as 12 months.

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Children With Autism Benefit from Early, Intensive Therapy

Published September 28, 2011 in Science Daily

A primary characteristic of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is impairments in social-communication skills. Children and adolescents with social-communication problems face difficulty understanding, interacting and relating with others. University of Missouri researchers found that children who receive more intensive therapy to combat these impairments, especially at early ages, achieve the best outcomes.

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Animal Model Research Could Lead To The Development Of Diagnostic Tests For Autism Based On Biomarkers

Published September 14, 2011 in Medical News Today

The first transgenic mouse model of a rare and severe type of autism called Timothy Syndrome is improving the scientific understanding of autism spectrum disorder in general and may help researchers design more targeted interventions and treatments.

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Infants Given A Social Jump Start By Early Motor Experiences: Study Indicates Infants At Risk For Autism Could Benefit From Motor Training

Published September 12, 2011 in Medical News Today

In a new study published in the journal Developmental Science (Epub ahead of print), researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Vanderbilt University found that early motor experiences can shape infants’ preferences for objects and faces. The study findings demonstrate that providing infants with “sticky mittens” to manipulate toys increases their subsequent interest in faces, suggesting advanced social development. This study supports a growing body of evidence that early motor development and self-produced motor experiences contribute to infants’ understanding of the social world around them. Conversely, this implies that when motor skills are delayed or impaired – as in autism – future social interactions and development could be negatively impacted.

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Early motor experiences can shape infants’ preferences for objects and faces

Published September 9, 2011 in News Medical

In a new study published today in the journal Developmental Science, researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Vanderbilt University found that early motor experiences can shape infants’ preferences for objects and faces. The study findings demonstrate that providing infants with “sticky mittens” to manipulate toys increases their subsequent interest in faces, suggesting advanced social development.This study supports a growing body of evidence that early motor development and self-produced motor experiences contribute to infants’ understanding of the social world around them. Conversely, this implies that when motor skills are delayed or impaired – as in autism – future social interactions and development could be negatively impacted.

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Multivariate Searchlight Classification of Structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Children and Adolescents with Autism

Published September 5, 2011 in Biological Psychiatry

Multiple brain regions, including those belonging to the default mode network, exhibit aberrant structural organization in children with autism. Brain-based biomarkers derived from structural magnetic resonance imaging data may contribute to identification of the neuroanatomical basis of symptom heterogeneity and to the development of targeted early interventions.

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Distinct features of autistic brain revealed in novel Stanford/Packard analysis of MRI scans

Published September 2, 2011 in Stanford University

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have used a novel method for analyzing brain-scan data to distinguish children with autism from typically developing children. Their discovery reveals that the gray matter in a network of brain regions known to affect social communication and self-related thoughts has a distinct organization in people with autism.

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Detecting, Studying, and Treating Autism Early: The One-Year Well-Baby Check-Up Approach

Published September 1, 2011 in Journal of Pediatrics

A five-minute checklist filled out by parents at the one-year, well-baby check-up has been shown to predict autism or other developmental delays in about 75 percent of cases. This easily implemented tool is the first validated autism screen for infants and could help pediatricians identify autism even earlier than the evaluations at 18 and 24 […]

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Randomized, Controlled Trial of the LEAP Model of Early Intervention for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published May 25, 2011 in Topics in Early Childhood Special Education

A 2011 study supports the effectiveness of an early intervention model for autism spectrum disorder designed to be used in an integrated classroom. Randomized controlled trials are considered to be the gold standard of evidence; however, due to their complexity and cost, only four other RCTs of comprehensive interventions for young children with autism had […]

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New checklist could detect autism by age 1

Published April 28, 2011 in USA Today

An early screening test for autism, designed to detect signs of the condition in babies as young as 1 year old, could revolutionize the care of autistic children, experts say, by getting them diagnosed and treated years earlier than usual. The checklist available online now asks parents or other caregivers about their child’s communication skills, from babbling and first words to eye contact.

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Socioeconomics Playing Reduced Role in Autism Diagnoses

Published April 6, 2011 in Medical News Today

While there is an increasing equality in terms of the likelihood that children from communities and families across the socioeconomic spectrum will be diagnosed with autism, a new study finds that such factors still influence the chance of an autism diagnosis, though to a much lesser extent than they did at the height of rising prevalence.

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Treatments Show Promise in Reducing Autism-related Behaviors, but Some have Significant Side Effects

Published April 4, 2011 in Agency for Heathcare Research and Quality

Some medical and behavioral treatments show promise for reducing certain behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), but more research is needed to assess the potential benefits and harms, according to a new report funded by HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The research results were published online in the journal Pediatrics.

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A Systematic Review of Early Intensive Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published April 1, 2011 in Pediatrics

Researchers at Vanderbilt University reviewed the effectiveness of early intervention programs for children aged 12 and younger with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Overall, the strength of the evidence ranged from insufficient to low. Studies performed at the University of California Los Angeles /Lovaas-based interventions and variants reported clinically significant gains in language and cognitive skills […]

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Misreading Faces Tied to Child Social Anxiety

Published April 1, 2011 in Medical News Today

Children suffering from extreme social anxiety are trapped in a nightmare of misinterpreted facial expressions: They confuse angry faces with sad ones, a new study shows.

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Catching Autism Symptoms Early to Enable Effective Preventative Interventions Through Play

Published March 23, 2011 in Medical News Today

Toddlers who played with a limited number of toys showed more improvement in their communication skills following parent-guided treatment than those receiving other community-based treatments.

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Interactive Program for Dealing with Behavioral Problems is Available as iPhone Application

Published March 18, 2011 in Medical News Today

Behavior Breakthroughs, an interactive program developed by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), uses game-based technology and 3-D imagery to help train people who work with children and adults with behavioral problems.

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Less Invasive EEG With Chaos Theory Helps ID Autism Early

Published February 22, 2011 in Medical News Today

For many years, behavioral testing and observation have been the only way to determine if a child is autistic, often causing distress and confusion for parents. However, now the application of the standard electroencephalogram (EEG) combined with borrowed math from chaos theory, may enable doctors to read brain wave patterns and identify levels of autism one to two years earlier with 80% accuracy.

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Virtual Desktop Program Helps Connect The Autism Spectrum

Published February 13, 2011 in Medical News Today

Touchstone Behavioral Health, a Phoenix-based treatment center that specializes in working with children has developed a virtual program that gives patients remote access to specialized autism treatment tools and allows therapists and patients to continue developing real-world life skills outside of traditional clinical environments.

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Intervention Targeting Development of Socially Synchronous Engagement in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Published January 1, 2011 in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

Two-year-olds with ASD showed improved social skills after completing an intervention targeting core social deficits in autism. It is the first randomized controlled trial to test such an intervention in toddlers and gives promise that a supplementary curriculum could improve social and communication skills in very young children. The researchers randomly assigned 50 toddlers with […]

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Prevalence of Autism According to Maternal Immigrant Status and Ethnic Origin

Published January 1, 2011 in Acta Psychiatrica Scandanavia, M.-J Dealberto

This study examined the rates of autism according to maternal immigrant status and ethnic origins based on the vitamin D insufficiency hypothesis, which proposes that maternal vitamin D insufficiency during pregnancy could be associated with autism. The study provided further support to the association between maternal immigrant status and an increased risk of autism. In […]

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Preference for Geometric Patterns Early in Life as a Risk Factor for Autism

Published January 1, 2011 in Archives of General Psychiatry, Pierce et al.

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego found that a preference for geometric patterns early in life may be a novel and easily detectable early signature of infants and toddlers at risk for autism. One hundred ten toddlers were presented with a one-minute movie depicting moving geometric patterns on one side of a video […]

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ICare4autism To Create World’s First Global Autism Research And Education Center

Published December 13, 2010 in Medical News Today

The International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICare4autism), a New York-based charity, announced plans to create the world’s first Global Autism Center on Mt. Scopus in Israel, dedicated to catalyzing breakthrough innovation in autism research and treatment. In a ceremony at Jerusalem’s City Hall hosted by Mayor Nir Barkat, ICare4autism’s President Joshua Weinstein signed an agreement paving the way for ICare4autism to acquire the campus of Bezalel Academy of Art in 2013, and convert it into a center.

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Toddlers With Autism Show Improved Social Skills Following Targeted Intervention

Published December 9, 2010 in Science Daily

Targeting the core social deficits of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in early intervention programs yielded sustained improvements in social and communication skills even in very young children who have ASD, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Autism

Published December 1, 2010 in Journal of the American Medical Association, Giulivi et al

Children with autism are far more likely to have deficits in their ability to produce cellular energy than are typically developing children. While the study is small (10 test subjects) and requires replication, it furthers previous research which has revealed hints of a mitochondrial dysfunction/autism connection. The researchers found that mitochondria from children with autism […]

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Children With Autism Have Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Study Finds

Published November 30, 2010 in Science Daily

Children with autism are far more likely to have deficits in their ability to produce cellular energy than are typically developing children, a new study by researchers at UC Davis has found. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that cumulative damage and oxidative stress in mitochondria, the cell’s energy producer, could influence both the onset and severity of autism, suggesting a strong link between autism and mitochondrial defects.

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New Approach Finds Success In Teaching Youth With Autism

Published November 22, 2010 in Medical News Today

As the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders continues to increase, the one thing that won't change is the need for those children to develop social skills. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri are developing an effective social competence curriculum, with a virtual classroom component, that could help educators meet the demand […]

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Autism-Risk Gene Rewires the Brain in a Way That Disrupts Learning and Language Acquisition

Published November 3, 2010 in Medical News Today

Researchers at UCLA have discovered how an autism-risk gene rewires the brain, which could pave the way for treatments aimed at rebalancing brain circuits during early development. Dr. Geschwind and team examined the variations in brain function and connectivity resulting from two forms of the CNTNAP2 gene – one form of the gene increases the risk of autism. The researchers suspected that CNTNAP2 might have an important impact on brain activity. They used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to scan 32 children’s brains while they were performing tasks related to learning. Only 16 of them had autism.The imaging results confirmed their suspicions. All the children with the autism-risk gene showed a disjointed brain, regardless of their diagnosis. Their frontal lobe was over-connected to itself, while connection to the rest of the brain was poor, especially with the back of the brain. There was also a difference between how the left and right sides of the brain connected with each other, depending on which CNTNAP2 version the child carried.The authors believe their findings could help identify autism risk earlier, and eventually lead to interventions that could enhance connections between the frontal lobe and the left side of the brain.

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A Model for Neural Development and Treatment of Rett Syndrome Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Published November 1, 2010 in Cell, Marchetto et al

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are complex neurodevelopmental diseases in which different combinations of genetic mutations may contribute to the phenotype. Using Rett syndrome (RTT) as an ASD genetic model, we recapitulate early stages of a human neurodevelopmental disease, using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from RTT patients' fibroblasts, which essentially creates a "disease in a […]

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How Immune Response in Pregnancy May Lead to Brain Disfunction in Offspring

Published October 14, 2010 in Science Daily

A pregnant woman’s immune response to viral infections may induce subtle neurological changes in the unborn child that can lead to an increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders including schizophrenia and autism.

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Scientists One Step Closer to Diagnosing Autism with MRI

Published October 13, 2010 in Sify News

Researchers at the University of Utah (U of U) are one step closer to diagnosing autism using MRI, an advance that eventually could help health care providers identify the problem much earlier in children and lead to improved treatment and outcomes for those with the disorder.

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Autistic Toddlers Prefer to Gaze at Geometric Patterns

Published September 7, 2010 in Bloomberg Business Week

Eye-tracking study reveals that a toddler’s infatuation with geometric patterns instead of social interactions such as dancing, jumping and smiling could be an early sign of autism.

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Infants Gaze May Be an Early, but Subtle, Marker for Autism Risk

Published September 1, 2010 in Science Daily

Kennedy Krieger Institute have announced new study results showing an early marker for later communication and social delays in infants at a higher-risk for autism may be infrequent gazing at other people when unprompted. The study also found that six-month-old high-risk infants demonstrated the same level of cause and effect learning skills when compared to low-risk infants of the same age.

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Structural Basis for Autism Disorders

Published August 25, 2010 in Science Daily

There is still much that is unknown about autism spectrum disorders, but a University of Nevada, Reno psychologist has added to the body of knowledge that researchers around the world are compiling to try to demystify, prevent and treat the mysterious condition.

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Early Life Influences Risk for Psychiatric Disorders

Published August 18, 2010 in Science Daily

For more than a century, clinical investigators have focused on early life as a source of adult psychopathology. Although the hypothesized mechanisms have evolved, a central notion remains: early life is a period of unique sensitivity during which experience confers enduring effects.

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Researchers Find Predictors of Autism That Can Lead to Infant Diagnosis

Published August 5, 2010 in S.I. Live

Certain behaviors seen in infants as young as 1-month-old may be predictors of autism spectrum disorders, according to new research by scientists at the Institute for Basic Research and Developmental Disabilities, Willowbrook.At 1 month, children with the ASD diagnosis were more likely to have asymmetrical visual tracking and arm tone deficits. By 4 months, they were more attracted to higher levels of visual stimulation, much like younger infants. Between 7 and 10 months, the children with ASD showed major declines in mental and motor performance.

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New Technology Reveals a Unique Vocal Signature in Autism

Published July 20, 2010 in Medical News Today

Study reports new automated vocal analysis technology could fundamentally change the study of language development as well as the screening for autism spectrum disorders and language delay.

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Blinking Could Detect Autism

Published May 21, 2010 in SFARI

The researchers tracked eye movements and blinks in 41 2-year-olds with autism and 52 healthy controls while the children watched a short movie of two toddlers on a playground. Both groups on average blinked about five times per minute. But they differed significantly in how their blinking lined up with the content of the movie.Healthy toddlers refrained from blinking as they watched scenes with high emotional content, such as when the toddler-actors fought about a toy. Toddlers with autism, in contrast, were just as likely to blink during emotional scenes as during dull ones.

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Kids with Autism Not Helped by Parent Training Alone

Published May 20, 2010 in Web MD

Training parents to adapt communication to their child’s impairments doesn’t affect the child’s autism but does help the parent-child relationship, U.K. researchers find. The idea was that training parents to respond to their child’s specific communication needs would jump-start the child’s social development and improve the child’s general communication skills.

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Newborn Infants Learn While Asleep; Study May Lead To Later Disability Tests

Published May 19, 2010 in Medical News Today

Sleeping newborns are better learners than thought, says a University of Florida researcher about a study that is the first of its type. The study could lead to identifying those at risk for developmental disorders such as autism and dyslexia.

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IntegraGen Announces Publication of Four Genetic Variants in Autism

Published May 14, 2010 in Medical News Today

IntegraGen SA, a French biotechnology company dedicated to gene discovery, announced today the publication of the results of a collaborative study reporting the use of a combined analysis of multiple genetic variants in a genetic score to help identify individuals at high risk of developing autism.

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How, When Child Develops Autism May Determine Outcome

Published April 23, 2010 in US News & World Report

Children with autism whose social and communications skills regress around age 3 tend to have more severe autism than children who show signs of the neurodevelopmental disorder at younger ages, new research finds.

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Autism Outcomes Linked to Onset

Published April 21, 2010 in PsychCentral

A new study by the Kennedy Krieger Institute suggests that the long-term outcome of autism disorders is linked to when and how symptoms first appear. Surprisingly, researchers discovered children with early developmental warning signs may actually be at lower risk for poor outcomes than children with less delayed early development who experience a loss or plateau in skills.

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Intensive Treatment Found To Be Highly Effective

Published April 6, 2010 in Newswise

Results of a randomized clinical trial found an innovative multi-component summer social development program to be effective in improving the social performance of children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders.

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Children With Autistic Traits Remain Undiagnosed

Published March 22, 2010 in Science Daily

There has been a major increase in the incidence of autism over the last twenty years. While people have differing opinions as to why this is (environment, vaccines, mother’s age, better diagnostic practice, more awareness etc.) there are still many children who have autistic traits that are never diagnosed clinically. Therefore, they do not receive the support they need through educational or health services.

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Music Training Enhances Brainstem Activity to Speech Sounds

Published February 22, 2010 in Science Daily

At a Feb. 20 press briefing held during the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, a Northwestern University neuroscientist argued that music training has profound effects that shape the sensory system and should be a mainstay of K-12 education. Kraus presented her own research and the research of other neuroscientists suggesting music education can be an effective strategy in helping typically developing children as well as children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately encode speech.

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Autism’s Earliest Symptoms Not Evident in Children Under 6 Months

Published February 16, 2010 in Science Daily

A study of the development of autism in infants, comparing the behavior of the siblings of children diagnosed with autism to that of babies developing normally, has found that the nascent symptoms of the condition — a lack of shared eye contact, smiling and communicative babbling — are not present at 6 months, but emerge gradually and only become apparent during the latter part of the first year of life.

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Cartoon Trains Teach Autistic Children About Emotions

Published January 7, 2010 in The Sydney Morning Herald

Putting a human face on a cartoon train, bus or tram proved to help children with autism understand emotions. The head of the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre, Simon Baron-Cohen, conducted a study using a series of 15 animated stories called The Transporters. Each episode focused on a different emotion – from simple ones such as happy, sad and angry to more complex emotions such as sorry, ashamed, tired and joking. The findings showed children with autism spectrum conditions had improved emotion recognition after watching the 3D program for 15 minutes a day over a month.

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Randomized, Controlled, Trial of an Intervention for Toddlers with Autism: The Early Start Denver Model

Published January 1, 2010 in Pediatrics, Dawson, Rogers, Munson, Smith, Winter, Greeson, Donaldson, and Varley

The first randomized, controlled trial to demonstrate the efficacy of a comprehensive developmental behavioral intervention for toddlers with ASD for improving cognitive and adaptive behavior and reducing severity of ASD diagnosis. Results of this study underscore the importance of early detection of and intervention in autism.

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New CDC Report on Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published December 18, 2009 in CDC- MMWR Surveillance Studies

In 2006, on average, approximately 1% or one child in every 110 in the 11 ADDM sites was classified as having an ASD. The average prevalence of ASDs identified among children aged 8 years increased 57% in 10 sites from the 2002 to the 2006 ADDM surveillance year. Although improved ascertainment accounts for some of the prevalence increases documented in the ADDM sites, a true increase in the risk for children to develop ASD symptoms cannot be ruled out. On average, although delays in identification persisted, ASDs were being diagnosed by community professionals at earlier ages in 2006 than in 2002.

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Baby Face–Harvard Experts Hope Facial Recognition Studies Benefit Autism Research

Published December 4, 2009 in ABC News

Researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston studying the science of how babies read facial expressions say they’re hoping their results will prove useful for autism and developmental research. Scientists at Harvard believe emotion detection is so crucial in everyday life that they’re willing to cajole babies into an electrode “net” to see how to see how humans first learn to read faces.

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Early Intervention for Toddlers With Autism Highly Effective, Study Finds

Published November 30, 2009 in Science Daily

A novel early intervention program for very young children with autism — some as young as 18 months — is effective for improving IQ, language ability and social interaction, a comprehensive new study has found.

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Experts Summarize the State of Research in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Published October 14, 2009 in Science Daily

Scientific understanding and medical treatments for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have advanced significantly over the past several years, but much remains to be done, say experts from the Center for Autism Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who recently published a scientific review of the field.

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Utah Researchers Discover Another Genetic Link to Autism

Published October 8, 2009 in Salt Lake Tribune

An international consortium of researchers, including three from the University of Utah, has discovered yet another genetic link to autism. Studying the genes of more than 1,000 families — including 150 from Utah — who have more than one person with the disorder, the researchers found a region on chromosome 5 that is strongly associated with autism.

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Op-Ed: Fight to Overcome Autism Gets Major Boost, Higher Priority

Published October 5, 2009 in HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

The federal government will provide nearly twice as much funding for autism research in the upcoming fiscal year as we had just three years ago. President Obama has made autism a focus from the first days of his presidency in hopes to counterbalance some of the new challenges Autism has created for for families, schools, and health care providers.

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Can Children with Autism Recover? If so, How?

Published December 31, 2008 in Neuropsychology Review, Helt, Kelley, et al

Although Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are generally assumed to be lifelong, we review evidence that between 3% and 25% of children reportedly lose their ASD diagnosis and enter the normal range of cognitive, adaptive and social skills. Predictors of recovery include relatively high intelligence, receptive language, verbal and motor imitation, and motor development, but not […]

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Peripheral Biomarkers in Autism: Secreted Amyloid Precursor Protein-Alpha as a Probably Key Player in Early Diagnosis

Published October 15, 2008 in Inter. Journal Clinical Exp. Medicine, Bailey, Giunta, et al

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by impairments in socialization and communication. There is currently no single molecular marker or laboratory tool capable of diagnosing autism at an early age. The purpose of this study is to explore the plausible use of peripheral biomarkers in the early diagnosis of autism via a sensitive ELISA. […]

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Screening Strategies for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Pediatric Primary Care

Published October 1, 2008 in Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Pinto-Martin, Young, Mandell, Poghosyan, Giarelli, Levy

Two strategies have been proposed for early identification of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD): (1) using a general screening tool followed by an ASD-specific screening tool for those who screen positive on the former or (2) using an ASD-specific tool for all children. The relative yield of these two strategies has not been examined. […]

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