Can Parents’ Concerns Predict Autism Spectrum Disorder? A Prospective Study of High-Risk Siblings From 6 to 36 Months of Age
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OBJECTIVE: This prospective study characterized parents' concerns about infants at high risk for developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD; each with an older sibling with ASD) at multiple time points in the first 2 years, and assessed their relation to diagnostic outcome at 3 years. METHOD: Parents of low-risk controls (LR) and high-risk infant siblings (HR) reported any concerns that they had regarding their children's development between 6 and 24 months of age regarding sleep, diet, sensory behavior, gross/fine motor skills, repetitive movements, communication, communication regression, social skills, play, and behavioral problems, using a parent concern form designed for this study. At 3 years of age, an independent, gold-standard diagnostic assessment for ASD was conducted for all participants. RESULTS: As predicted, parents of HR children who received an ASD diagnosis reported more concerns than parents of LR and HR children who did not have ASD. The total number of concerns predicted a subsequent diagnosis of ASD as early as 12 months within the HR group. Concerns regarding sensory behavior and motor development predicted a subsequent diagnosis of ASD as early as 6 months, whereas concerns about social communication and repetitive behaviors did not predict diagnosis of ASD until after 12 months. CONCLUSION: Parent-reported concerns can improve earlier recognition of ASD in HR children.
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