A new study found that 31 percent of children identified as at risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at 1 year old received a confirmed diagnosis by age 3.
Additionally, 85 percent of the children found to be at risk for ASD based on results from the First Year Inventory (FYI), a 63-item questionnaire filled out by their parents, had some other developmental disability or concern by age 3, said Grace Baranek, PhD.
Baranek is senior author of the study and an autism researcher with the Program for Early Autism, Research, Leadership and Service (PEARLS) at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
“These results indicate that an overwhelming majority of children who screen positive on the FYI indeed experience some delay in development by age 3 that may warrant early intervention,” she said.
“Identification of children at risk for ASD at 12 months could provide a substantial number of children and their families with access to intervention services months or years before they would otherwise receive a traditional diagnosis,” added Lauren Turner-Brown, PhD, also a researcher with PEARLS and lead author of the study.
In the study, parents of 699 children who filled out the FYI when their child was 12 months old completed additional screening questionnaires when their child reached age 3. In addition, children who were found to be at risk for ASD based on these measures were invited for in-person diagnostic evaluations.
“These findings are encouraging and suggest promise in the approach of using parent report of infant behaviors as a tool for identifying 12-month-olds who are at risk for an eventual diagnosis of ASD,” Turner-Brown said.
The First Year Inventory was developed by Baranek, Linda Watson, EdD, Elizabeth Crais, PhD, and J. Steven Reznick, PhD, who are all researchers with PEARLS. All are also co-authors of the study with Turner-Brown, which was published in Autism: The International Journal of Research & Practice.