Study finds infants later diagnosed with autism show reduced social communication before their first birthday

The foundation for social communication is present from birth, with newborns preferring to orient to faces over non-faces and caregivers over strangers. Between 9-12 months of age, infants develop other social communication skills such as use of eye gaze, facial expressions, gestures, and sounds. Differences in social communication are a defining feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There’s minimal prior research that examines whether observable prelinguistic social-communication skills, prior to 12 months of age, emerge more slowly in infants with ASD compared to typically developing infants. A new study documents that observable social-communication differences for infants with ASD unfold by 9 months, pointing to a critical window for targeted intervention.
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