Possible early signs of autism identified

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 24, 2008

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One-year-olds who spent more time visually exploring, rotating and spinning objects had an increased risk of being diagnosed with autism by age 3, according to a study in the October Autism.

"We found that these behaviors were relatively rare in the contrast group, but very high in the group who later developed autism," said Sally Ozonoff, PhD, lead author and vice chair for research at the University of California, Davis, M.I.N.D. Institute.

Researchers recruited 66 infants from families that already had at least one child diagnosed with autism or another developmental issue. The infants' reactions to a round metal lid, a plastic ring, a rattle and a plastic baby bottle were then recorded. Those later diagnosed with autism were more likely to throw the object, examine it from odd angles or squint and blink while looking at it.

The authors say this finding is important because there is an urgent need to be able to diagnose autism at earlier ages.

"The finding that the unusual use of toys is also present early in life means that this behavior could easily be added to a parent check list or quickly assessed during a visit to a pediatrician's office," said Ozonoff.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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