This project was completed in September 2016
Early Markers was a project designed to identify characteristics that may be associated with development of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in infant siblings of children with ASD. These babies are at-risk for ASD because they have an older sibling with ASD, such as autism, Asperger syndrome, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. While many of these at-risk infants will be typically developing, a minority will themselves develop ASD. Following confirmation of the older sibling’s ASD diagnosis, participants received ongoing developmental evaluation at the Speech-Language-Hearing Center at UNH at 6, 12 and 18 months of age. Evaluations focused on communication, social emotional, and sensory motor development. Additionally, naturalistic parent-child interactions were videotaped in the family’s home at 6, 12 and 18 months of age to better understand development in the “real world”. Children were again evaluated at 30 months of age to monitor developmental outcome as well as possible symptoms of ASD. Families received feedback as well as a written report following each clinic visit. When concerns were evident, referrals to early supports and services were provided.
Families reported that their involvement in the Early Markers project helped to alleviate their concerns through careful monitoring of thi infant and also provided access to the earliest possible services when necessary. It is hoped that improving our understanding of developmental differences in infants and toddlers who are later diagnosed with ASD will lead to earlier identification of ASD as well as earlier access to supports and services for all families in our community.