Early Identification of Autism: How Early Can We Go?

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Identification of young children at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) depends on early behavioral symptomatology and yet conventional criteria provide little guidance for use with infants and toddlers. Recent research, however, has demonstrated that there are patterns of behavior below 2 years of age that distinguish children with autism from those who are developing typically or those with other developmental disabilities. Skill areas with particular promise for early identification include social communication, sensory regulation, and play. This article previews current innovative methodologies, presents a synthesis of recent research findings related to these three key areas, and provides clinicians with practical guidelines for early identification of infants and toddlers at risk for ASD and other disorders.

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