EARLY DETECTION OF AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS
Chief investigator: Marialuisa Scattoni (ISS)
Investigators from the SMILE Lab: Andrea Guzzetta, Sara Mazzotti, Gessica Tealdi, Francesca Colombini
So far, the study of the early symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) is mainly based on retrospective analysis of home video-tapes, a method that is not standardized because of methodological differences in quality of recording and observational setting. Recently, prospective studies of infant siblings of children with ASDs have been performed, using the Autism Observation Scale for Infants, which measures visual attention, response to name, social babbling, eye contact and sensory behaviours. Neither home video analysis nor high risk infants studies, detected consistent abnormalities earlier than 1 year of age.
Since the diagnostic evaluation of ASD children is based on the assessment of unusual social interaction, imitation, play, insistence on sameness and preference for fixed routines, verbal and non-verbal communication, it is not surprising that a reliable diagnosis is not possible before two years of age. Still, early identification of young children with ASDs, possibly through a set of behavioral and neurophysiological indexes, is crucial in light of findings indicating that early intervention is much more effective than interventions starting in later childhood.
This proposal attempts to describe, for the first time during the first six months of life, normative ranges for motor development (general movements) and acoustic parameters (infant cry) in a population of at least 200 newborn/infants (male and females). This information will be then used to assess early development in a number of high risk siblings to determine the predictive power of these early developmental indexes.
Can you help us?
We are looking for 200 healthy babies and any siblings of ASD children. Babies in the study will be recruited within the 10th day of life and will receive home visits at 10 days, 6, 12, 18 and 24 weeks, to perform simple recordings of spontaneous cry and motility.
For futher information, please contact:
Dr Andrea Guzzetta
Child Neuropsychiatrist, Research Coordinator
Ph: 050 886 239
Dr Gessica Tealdi
Ph: 050 886 239
This study receives funding support from the Italian Ministry of Health (Project's code: GR-2008-1143201).