Researchers at Yale School of Medicine are able to detect deficits in social attention in infants as young as six months of age who later develop Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Published in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry, the results showed that these infants paid less attention to people and their activities than typically developing babies.
Katarzyna Chawarska, associate professor at the Yale Child Study Center, and her colleagues investigated whether six-month-old infants later diagnosed with ASD showed prodromal symptoms - early signs of ASD such as an impaired ability to attend to social overtures and activities of others. Before this study, it had not been clear whether these prodromal symptoms were present in the first year of life.
"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," said Chawarska. "This could make earlier interventions and treatments possible."