International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Varying Pathways to Asperger's Syndrome at Age 5: A Prospective Case Series

Varying Pathways to Asperger's Syndrome at Age 5: A Prospective Case Series

Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
11:30 AM
K. Drummond , Autism Research Unit, The Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
W. Roberts , Department of Pediatrics, Hospital for Sick Children and Bloorview Kids Rehab, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
J. Brian , Autism Research Unit, and Bloorview Research Institute, Hospital for Sick Children & Bloorview Kids Rehab, Toronto, ON, Canada
S. E. Bryson , Pediatrics and Psychology, Dalhousie University/IWK Health Centre, Halifax, NS, Canada
C. Roncadin , Psychology, Peel Children's Centre and McMaster Univeristy, Mississauga, ON, Canada
I. M. Smith , Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
P. Szatmari , Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
L. Zwaigenbaum , Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Background: There are many studies of high-functioning individuals with autism and Asperger’s syndrome (AS). However, little is known about the early behavioural profiles and developmental trajectories of young children who later receive an AS diagnosis.
Objectives: The present case series describes the cognitive, language, social-communication, and behaviour patterns in high-risk infants who were followed prospectively  from 6 months of age and met criteria for AS or Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) between 3 and 5 years; all were high-functioning. The cases elucidate emerging signs of social-communication difficulties and/or narrow interests and repetitive behaviour that may not meet criteria for ASD at 2 years of age.
Methods: Prospective data were collected from a study of high-risk infants with a sibling with ASD (Zwaigenbaum et al., 2005). Developmental profiles included information from standardized observations (e.g., Autism Observation Scale for Infants, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and interviews (e.g., Autism Diagnostic Interview – Revised), as well as measures of cognition, language, and motor development.
Results: We described three broadly defined subgroups: (1) no identified delays or ASD signs by 2 years of age (i.e., typical cognitive and communication development; n = 3); (2) those initially identified as ‘at-risk’ due to communication or language delays by 2 years; n = 3); and (3) those who received a diagnosis of ASD before age 2 (n = 2). Despite different developmental pathways across groups, all children had a profile of abilities consistent with AS by 5 years of age. In most children, early repetitive behaviours and interests coexisted with atypical sensory behaviours.
Conclusions: Discussion focuses on the issues raised by the pattern of findings that may contribute to our understanding of the developmental trajectory of AS, and thereby to its early detection and treatment.