Behavior profiles of children with autism spectrum disorder in kindergarten: Comparison with other developmental disabilities and typically developing children
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Monitoring behavior patterns that may be specific to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at a population level has the potential to improve the allocation of intervention strategies and reduction of the burden of the disease. In Ontario, Canada, developmental data are regularly collected for all kindergarten children with the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a teacher-completed questionnaire that provides information on children's status in five domains: physical, social, emotional, language/cognitive, and communication/general knowledge. Our main research questions are: (a) are there differences in kindergarten EDI domain scores between children who are diagnosed with ASD by Grade 3 and those who develop typically or have other disabilities?; (b) do these differences show a different pattern in relation to an early (by kindergarten) or late (by Grade 3) diagnosis?; and (c) are there specific subdomains on the EDI that demonstrate a consistent pattern of differences? EDI domain and subdomain scores were compared among groups using multivariate analysis of variance controlling for age, gender, EDI year, and EDI year by age interaction. Children with ASD, regardless of timing of identification, had significantly lower scores on all domains of the EDI than typically developing children. Children with later ASD diagnosis had higher scores in kindergarten in cognitive areas but lower scores in social-emotional areas than children with other disabilities. These findings support the potential of the EDI to monitor ASD-like behaviors at the population level. Autism Res 2018, 11: 410-420. © 2017 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. LAY SUMMARY: Identifying behavior patterns among kindergarten children that may be specific to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at a population level has the potential to improve intervention strategies and thus reduce the burden of the disease. In Ontario, Canada, developmental data are regularly collected with the Early Development Instrument (EDI) for all kindergarten children. The behavior in kindergarten of a sub-population of children diagnosed with developmental disabilities by age 9 is investigated here for patterns that may distinguish children with ASD from those with other disorders. Children with later ASD diagnosis had higher scores in kindergarten in cognitive areas but lower scores in social-emotional areas than children with other disabilities, indicating meaningful differences between those groups even before diagnosis. These results support the potential of using the EDI to monitor ASD-like behaviors at the population level.
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