Autism signs ‘present in first months’ of life

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Autism can be identified in babies as young as two months, early research suggests.

US researchers analysed how infants looked at faces from birth to the age of three.

They found children later diagnosed with autism had shown diminished eye contact – a hallmark of autism – in the first few months of life.

The findings, reported in Nature, raised hope for early interventions to tackle autism, said a UK expert.

In the study, researchers led by Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta used eye-tracking technology to measure the way babies looked at and responded to social clues.

They found infants later diagnosed with autism had shown a steady decline in attention to the eyes of other people from the age of two months onwards, when watching videos of natural human interactions.

Written By: Helen Briggs
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

6 COMMENTS

  1. This is fascinating but not entirely unexpected. One third of people diagnosed with autism are also diagnosed with prosopagnosia, face blindness. Brains wire in ways to extract value out of their stimulation, but if that stimulation is for some spurious reason unrewarding, then that wiring to extract value is not going to happen. Value is rewarding, so if some initial pump priming reward process, looking at eyes say, is not subsequently supplemented by that behaviour happening sufficiently, then a spiral down might be expected to occur.

    Might it be that we need to make eyes and a baby’s first experience of them much more rewarding, at least until its innate value kicks in and the reward becomes self-sustaining?

    This is related to my concern that testing aptitudes in children is terrible for predicting interests or job types in later life. The issue is not aptitude or skill level but the reward got from that.

    Children are notoriously biddable and the reward of making a grown up (the experimenter) pleased may well ace the reward of the task itself. Girls’ abilities to do maths is just as good as boys when young, but even then it may be less rewarding to them in itself, so the skill fails with positive feedback of diminishing rewards amplifying comparatively small differences in “maths reward quotients”.

  2. This research might have implications for time travel technology.

    How else could it be that vaccinations made several years in the future could have a significant retrospective impact that’s detectable several years in the past?

    An equally plausible explanation might be that some newborn babies are telepathic and so ‘know’ that adults will in future years subject them to toxic medications, causing their future autism. Maybe that’s why these yet to be afflicted babies won’t maintain eye contact?

    Seeing as the kinds of people who believe in the vaccination theory of autism also tend to believe a wide variety of new age phenomenon, plus stuff that’s published in peer-reviewed women’s magazines, then it seems unlikely that this evidence of autism arising prior to vaccinations would be considered relevant so the question of its causes.

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