Signs of Autism Could Occur as Early as 6 Months: Why It's Good News for Your Baby

This Just In 6

babyAs with so many conditions, early detection is key when it comes to successfully treating autism. That's why pediatricians look for such telling traits in young children as difficulty making eye contact and/or a lack of general interest in people -- these symptoms can predict a later diagnosis with autism spectrum disorders. Until recently, even the earliest "early" detection wasn't quite early enough -- researchers couldn't tell if these indicators were present during the first year of a child's life. But a groundbreaking study conducted at Yale School of Medicine found that "deficits in social attention" could be detected in babies as young as 6 months of age who later developed autism.

Said Katarzyna Chawarska, associate professor at the Yale Child Study Center: "This study highlights the possibility of identifying certain features linked to visual attention that can be used for pinpointing infants at greatest risk for ASD in the first year of life. This could make earlier interventions and treatments possible."

Which, of course, could make a tremendous difference in the lives of autistic children and their families. I'll admit, my first reaction to this study was one of concern -- all I could picture was a bunch of nervous first-time moms driving themselves crazy trying to figure out if their babies were making enough eye contact. But these findings are far too significant to waste time worrying about. This is definitely GOOD news.

Do you think this research will help more kids to be diagnosed with and treated for autism early?


Image via the_stir/Flickr

in the news, baby development, baby first year, baby health, autism


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Amanda Benson

They are NOT "autistic children." They are "children with autism." Please use person-first language. In the world of autism people have been saying for years that earlier is better in terms of identification; however, a six month old infant will get little if anything from traditional behavioral techniques. If this progresses to changes in diagnostic criterion and/or treatment, it could really benefit all children in that families could learn how to help build social engagement at an early age. I'll be very interested to read the research and follow-up.

monke... monkeymom1104

Person first language always!! This is just stupid! As stupid as the Triple screen, causing undue worry and almost caused me to get a amniocentesis with my first. Then upon doing my own research learning how inaccurate those are and how small the window is. This will cause parents undue worry also, babies reach milestones differently and having four children, I've learned birth order, daycare and various other variables come into play.

Ashley Nicole Harris

Yes! Now after having my youngest I now look back and see so many signs that my oldest was autistic. She showed a lot of signs very early in life but she was my first so I didn't know what she was and wasn't doing was "normal" or not. 

nonmember avatar Shelbie71

I wish we had seen the signs earlier than age 2 with my son, with everyone around me saying "kids are all different, don't worry!" I pushed my concerns aside, which was a mistake. After aggressive intervention for a year from 2-3yrs, he is doing amazing, but I can only imagine the greater benefits of even earlier intervention with infants. Anyone who says earlier screening is stupid doesn't have an autistic child. I don't know a single parent of a child with autism who, in retrospect, would have loved a much earlier red flag/diagnosis/intervention.

nonmember avatar Jodie

Ashley Nicole Harris and me have had the exact same experiences, I knew my daughter had ASD before it was even mentioned to me

Melissa Ruel

My 4 year old has ASD but also has hearing loss, so many things like his eye contact was blamed on his hearing when he was younger.  He was diagnosed seven months ago because his new speech therapist could not find out "how he learns". The diagnosis didn't change much goal wise, but now she knows that he needs to be more visual and sometimes he just needs five more minutes to wander around a new room. We have a younger child that at 15 months has some skills that are in the gray area, because of my oldest we are keeping a closer watch on things rather than going "not all kids do x by this time".

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