Behavioural markers for autism in infancy: Scores on the Autism Observational Scale for Infants in a prospective study of at-risk siblings

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Abstract

We investigated early behavioural markers of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using the Autism Observational Scale for Infants (AOSI) in a prospective familial high-risk (HR) sample of infant siblings (N= 54) and low-risk (LR) controls (N= 50). The AOSI was completed at 7 and 14 month infant visits and children were seen again at age 24 and 36 months. Diagnostic outcome of ASD (HR-ASD) versus no ASD (HR-No ASD) was determined for the HR sample at the latter timepoint. The HR group scored higher than the LR group at 7 months and marginally but non-significantly higher than the LR group at 14 months, although these differences did not remain when verbal and nonverbal developmental level were covaried. The HR-ASD outcome group had higher AOSI scores than the LR group at 14 months but not 7 months, even when developmental level was taken into account. The HR-No ASD outcome group had scores intermediate between the HR-ASD and LR groups. At both timepoints a few individual items were higher in the HR-ASD and HR-No ASD outcome groups compared to the LR group and these included both social (e.g. orienting to name) and non-social (e.g. visual tracking) behaviours. AOSI scores at 14 months but not at 7 months were moderately correlated with later scores on the autism diagnostic observation schedule (ADOS) suggesting continuity of autistic-like behavioural atypicality but only from the second and not first year of life. The scores of HR siblings who did not go on to have ASD were intermediate between the HR-ASD outcome and LR groups, consistent with the notion of a broader autism phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Volume38
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2015

Keywords

  • ASD
  • Autism
  • Autism observation scale for infants (AOSI)
  • Early behavioural markers
  • High-risk siblings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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