Social and communication behaviours in infants and toddlers with autism and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified

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PURPOSE: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a group of conditions characterized by symptoms that onset in early childhood. Deficits in social skills and communication are two of the core features of ASD and, if not remediated, can lead to poor long-term outcomes. Few researchers have examined characteristics of social skills and communication in infants with ASD. METHOD: The social skills and communicative ability of 886 infants and toddlers 17-37 months of age with autism, PDD-NOS or 'at risk' for other developmental delays were evaluated using the Baby and Infant Screen for Children with aUtIsm Traits (BISCUIT). A Kruskal-Wallis test with follow-up Mann-Whitney tests were used to test for significance. RESULTS: Infants and toddlers with autism, followed by PDD-NOS, had greater social and communication deficits than children 'at risk' for developmental delays. Items which distinguished between these diagnostic groups were determined. CONCLUSIONS: Outcomes suggest that social and communication deficits can be identified at early ages in a population of developmentally delayed toddlers. Implications are that pinpointing emerging social and communicative autistic traits earlier will allow for more accurate assessment and diagnosis in infants with ASD. This translates into earlier intervention and more effective treatment practices.

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Developmental neurorehabilitation

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