An early behavioral marker for autism
University of Miami researchers have found a strong behavioral signal to indicate which infants who have an older sibling with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will themselves be diagnosed with ASD as they grow older. The researchers found that such high-risk infants who exhibit an early social difficulty, specifically an insecure-resistant attachment to a parent, are more than nine times more likely to receive an ASD diagnosis by age 3 than high-risk infants with secure attachments.
Early recognition of an insecure-resistant attachment--measured by how 15-month-old babies react when they are briefly separated then reunited with a parent--won't prevent a future ASD diagnosis. But, the researchers said, it could lead to interventions that help infants who will develop an ASD form more secure social relationships, which is often difficult for people with a neurodevelopmental disorder.
Many babies cry or show other signs of distress when a parent departs and they are left behind with a stranger. But secure babies are soothed when the parent returns. That, however, is not the case with babies classified with insecure-resistant attachments.
Secure babies typically explore their surroundings in their parent's presence and then seek to be close to the parent after an absence. Those classified with insecure resistant attachments explore less and are not often comforted by the parent's return or soothing overtures. By matching the classification for each of the 95 children with their diagnoses at age 3, the researchers determined that high-risk infants with insecure-resistant attachments were more than nine times more likely to receive an ASD diagnosis than high-risk infants with secure attachments.
(Content Courtesy: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-03/uom-uom031320.php)