The Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience
Infants at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders or Language Impairment
The goal of this project is to identify risk markers for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that may be present during the first 12 months of life, before a diagnosis of ASD is currently possible. One very important goal is to move this diagnostic window back to the first year of life, which will allow a more extended period during which children can receive intensive early behavioral interventions, which are known to be more effective than interventions and other treatments administered to older children.
Eligibility for Study Participation:
Infants: 3-6 months of age that have an older full blood sibling that is
- typically developing (for a comparison population)
- or has an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- or has a Language Impairment
If you decide to participate in this study, which has a longitudinal design, it will involve multiple visits to the Lab at regular time points during your baby's first 2 years of life. Each visit will last about 2 1/2 hours and will be scheduled at a time that is convenient for you and your child. Parents will be with their child at all times. In addition to the Lab visits we track your baby's development via a diary protocol that you can complete in your home.
The main goals of our research program are to identify very early signs of language or social communication problems that emerge in young children at risk for language impairment or autism spectrum disorders. Children with either language impairment or autism spectrum disorder are not usually diagnosed until they are older than 18 months of age. Our goal is to find signs that suggest risk for these disorders within the first few months of life, before babies reach their first birthday. If we can move diagnosis back to the first year of life, then early intervention, which is known to have a significant positive impact on children with these disorders, can begin much earlier than is currently possible. To achieve these goals we will study infants who are at higher risk for developing these disorders, because they have an older sibling with either language impairment or autism spectrum disorder. Because we are interested in the developmental changes in your child, we plan to conduct the study over the course of several years. This study is being conducted by Charles A. Nelson, Ph.D., Director of Research in the Division of Developmental Medicineat Boston Children's Hospital and Helen Tager-Flusberg of the Boston University School of Medicine.
Some members of the ISP team (from left to right, starting in the back row): Jennifer Wagner, Anne Seery, Kristin Concannon, Charles Nelson, Meagan Thompson, Kerri Downing, Rhiannon Luyster, Sharon Fox, Vanessa Loukas, Geneva DeGregorio, Vanessa Vogel-Farley.