Very Early Behavioral Markers of Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review

Amy Tanner, Katerina Dounavi

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Recent research suggests that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) symptoms can be detected between 6 and 18 months of age, however the average age of diagnosis is 4 years of age or older. Optimal outcomes in children with ASD are linked to the age at which the child began intervention, with the most significant gains being observed in children who begin behavioral intervention prior to 2 years of age. Therefore it remains a priority to continue to identify the earliest markers of ASD, to allow children to access intervention services as early as possible. Research looking at early ASD signs can be categorized into three domains (a) Retrospective studies (b) Video-tape review and (C) prospective studies, however this review exclusively examined prospective studies. The purpose of the current review was to systematically identify and analyze the prospective research which identifies early behavior signs of ASD in children less than 18 months of age. Systematic searches were conducted in four electronic databases: Medline, PubMed Resources Information Center (ERIC) and PsycINFO. Searches were limited to peer-reviewed journal articles, written in English and published within the previous 15 years (January 2001- January 2016). To be included in this review, studies met the following criteria: (1) the study included at least one participant aged18 months or younger (2) a pre and/or post screening or diagnostic tool or coding system was administered to determine the presence of ASD symptoms or a diagnosis (3) the symptoms were behavioral and observable (4) operational definitions of the symptoms were provided (5) an experimental design was used (6) Studies were prospective in nature. The reliability of the database searches was measured by calculating the total identical articles out of the total articles the independent researcher retrieved. Additional articles retrieved from references or from independent researcher were then filtered by the inclusion criteria. Additional articles that had 100% agreement between researchers were included in this review.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2017
Event9th International Conference, Association for Behaviour Analysis International (ABAI) : Association for Behavior Analysis-International - Paris, France
Duration: 14 Nov 201715 Nov 2017
Conference number: 9


Conference9th International Conference, Association for Behaviour Analysis International (ABAI)
Internet address


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