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Development of autism

Posted Aug 01 2005 12:00am

Research at the University of Washington shows that some young children with autism appear to be developing normally but regress. Researchers reviewed home videos of children at one and two years of age; some of the childen had been identified as having “regressive” autism, some as having “early onset” autism, and some as typically developing. Although their behavior appeared relatively normal at the their first birthday party, by their second birthday party todlers with regressive autism appeared different.

According to Julie Davidow of the Seattle (WA; US) Post-Intelligencer:

Experts have recognized autistic regression for at least a decade, but they’ve previously relied on parents’ recollections of a child’s backslide.

Now, a new study from the University of Washington documents regression using videotapes of children’s behavior during their first and second birthday parties.

“We were pretty sure there was a phenomenon of regression, but this (study) documents it … in a much more objective way,” said Sally Ozonoff, an autism researcher at the MIND Institute at the University of California-Davis.

Researchers reviewed homemade videotapes and talked to the parents of 56 children: 15 with regression, 21 with early onset and 20 children without autism.

On their first birthday, the children later diagnosed with autism had reached the same developmental milestones as those never diagnosed. They babbled in long strings of sounds, used single words, pointed out objects and people and responded to their names.

By their second birthdays, the same children looked very different when compared with their peers without autism.


  • Link to the University of Washington Autism Center’s Web site.
  • Link to the abstract in Archives of General Psychiatry.
  • Link to Ms. Davidow’s story.
  • Link to the USNews story covering the research.
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