There is very little prospective behavioural and biologic data on autism at 12 months of age or under. The reason for this gap in research and doagnostics is that autism is diagnosed and defined behaviourally, not biologically. and this significantly limits the approaches that can be used for the very early identification and study of infants at high risk for the disorder.
The Journal Of Pediatrics published research by Pierce et. al: "detecting, studying, and treating Autism Early: the one year well-baby check-up approach". This concludes that:
"The 1-Year Well-Baby Check-Up Approach shows promise as a simple mechanism to detect cases of ASD, LD, and DD at 1 year.This procedure offers an alternative to the baby sibling design as a mechanism to study autism prospectively, the results of which will enrich our understanding of autism at an early age. (J Pediatr 2011).
This is exciting stuff, especially since we here at NETwork have been working with babies and infants 'at risk' of developing ASD and developmental delays, and those showing the signs, for a few years now. We had a case recently where two twin 10 month olds showed all of the risk-factors and were beginning to fall behind their peers in the areas of behaviour, communication & social skills. They had two older brothers, both of whom had diagnosis of moderate and severe autism. By 14 months neither twin had any sign of a gap between themselves and their peers.
Further research was discussed in The Psychologist in March 2012 (i can't believe it has taken me so many months to chat with you about it!). Mayada Elsabbagh et. al. undertook a longitudinal study at UCL. They took 54 babies, aged 6-10 months with a history of autism, and 50 age-matched controls. Studying eye gaze and dynamic faces, they found that recordings of the babie's surface brain activity during this task (and others) revealed group differences (current biology: tinyurl.com/87zgpmc).
I will chat more about this tomorrow, but for copies of the research please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 03333 440 201
Love to all of your babies
Lu & Shelley