Study shows delays in siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders

May 16, 2012

A new University of Miami (UM) study shows that one in three children who have an older sibling with an Autism Related Disorder (ASD) fall into a group characterized by higher levels of autism-related behaviors or lower levels of developmental progress. The study will be presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in May, 2012. ASDs are developmental conditions characterized by problems with social interaction and communication. Previously, an international consortium of researchers found that almost one in five of the younger siblings of children with an ASD themselves developed an ASD.

UM's College of Arts and Sciences professor Dr. Daniel Messinger, presenting author of the study, says, "It is clear that the of a child with an may face challenges even if they are not themselves identified with an ASD. This new work identifies classes of outcomes in these children. We found that the majority of these high risk siblings appear to be developing normally. However, a higher than expected proportion of the children face challenges related to higher levels of autism-related behaviors or lower levels of verbal and non-verbal developmental functioning."

The study reveals that difficulties faced by the younger siblings of children with ASD involve both lower levels of verbal and nonverbal functioning and higher levels of autism-related problems. Examples of a child's autism-related problems ─ which are not as severe as those of children with an ASD ─ include lower levels of back-and-forth play with others and lower levels of pointing to express interest in what is going on around them.

Overall, the research says, the majority of siblings are developing typically at three years of age, but the development of a substantial minority is affected by subtler forms of ASD-related problems or lower levels of developmental functioning. Lower levels of developmental functioning and higher levels of autism-related problems in the at-risk siblings define what researchers refer to as the broad autism phenotype.

Explore further: Brain scans detect autism's signature

Related Stories

Brain scans detect autism's signature

November 15, 2010

An autism study by Yale School of Medicine researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has identified a pattern of brain activity that may characterize the genetic vulnerability to developing autism spectrum ...

Recommended for you

Researchers identify autism genes using new approach

August 1, 2016

Princeton University and Simons Foundation researchers have developed a machine-learning approach that for the first time analyzes the entire human genome to predict which genes may cause autism spectrum disorder, raising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.