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Study Reports Lack of Early Name Response May Be Sign of Autism

May 31, 2009

A new study, published in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, suggests that the failure of a child to respond to his or her name at the age of 12 months may be an early warning sign for autism.

The study assesses the potential value of response-to-name behavior as a screen for autism spectrum disorders, or ASD, and other developmental disabilities. The researchers found that 75% of the at-risk children involved in the study, including younger siblings of children with autism, who did not respond to their name at age of 12 months, had developmental problems at age 2. While not all children who eventually developed autism exhibited this deficit, the finding raises the possibility that when taken together with other "red flags" such as lack of eye-contact and language delay, failure to respond to name by age 12 months could serve as an early indicator for children at risk for developing ASD.

On April 2, The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric featured a report on the study. Peter Bell, executive vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks, and his wife Liz were featured in the story., along with Baby Sibs Consortium member Dr. Sally Ozonoff of the M.I.N.D. Institute Click here to view the segment online. Click here to read the story on the CBS News site.