Roberta Pineda, Kelsey Melchior, Sarah Oberle, Terrie Inder, Cynthia Rogers; Assessment of Autism Symptoms During the Neonatal Period: Is There Early Evidence of Autism Risk?. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(4):6904220010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.015925
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
OBJECTIVE. To define neonatal social characteristics related to autism risk.
METHOD. Sixty-two preterm infants underwent neonatal neurobehavioral testing. At age 2 yr, participants were assessed with the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers and Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 3rd edition.
RESULTS. Positive autism screening was associated with absence of gaze aversion, χ = 5.90, p =.01, odds ratio = 5.05, and absence of endpoint nystagmus, χ = 4.78, p = .02, odds ratio = 8.47. Demonstrating gaze aversion was related to better language outcomes, t(55) = −3.07, p ≤ .003. Displaying endpoint nystagmus was related to better language outcomes, t(61) = −3.06, p = .003, cognitive outcomes, t(63) = −5.04, p < .001, and motor outcomes, t(62) = −2.82, p = .006.
CONCLUSION. Atypical social interactions were not observed among infants who later screened positive for autism. Instead, the presence of gaze aversion and endpoint nystagmus was related to better developmental outcomes. Understanding early behaviors associated with autism may enable early identification and lead to timely therapy activation to improve function.
More research is needed to generate a better understanding of the relationship between early neurobehavioral function and the implications for long-term development.
Early neurobehavioral assessment can aid early identification of adverse outcomes, enabling earlier therapy.
Social interaction behaviors that manifest during the neonatal period appear to be related to developmental outcomes.
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