The objective is to overview recent findings on early detection/diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, as well as clinical trials of early interventions for toddlers at risk for/diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Prospective studies of infants at high risk of autism spectrum disorder have yielded significant advances in understanding early development in autism spectrum disorder. Findings from prospective studies indicate that abnormalities in social communication and repetitive behaviors emerge during the second year, whereas additional “prodromal features” (motor and sensory abnormalities) emerge in the first year. Subsequently, exciting progress has been made in establishing the efficacy of autism spectrum disorder–specific interventions for toddlers as young as 15 months. Finally, efforts occur to characterize autism spectrum disorder–specific characteristics in genetic syndromes with concurrent autism spectrum disorder symptomatology.
Substantial progress in characterizing early developmental trajectories as well as the identification of specific behavioral markers has aided early detection. Work remains to ensure that research findings are translated into clinical practice for uptake in the health care system.