Methods: Data were analyzed for 110 TD children (7-24 months old) who were evaluated as part of the development of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) Toddler Module. Analyses included 4 items that are part of the RRB section of the ADOS Toddler Module (hand/finger mannerisms, other complex mannerisms, unusual sensory interests, unusually repetitive interests/stereotyped behaviors); and 5 items in the Communication section that involve unusual and/or repetitive forms of communication (echolalia, stereotyped speech, frequency of undirected vocalizations, use of other’s body to communicate, unusual intonation).
Conclusions: The present findings are consistent with previous studies of preschool-age children and indicate that so-called ‘unusual behaviors’ are far from rare in typically developing infants and toddlers. The findings on age differences suggest that some of these behaviors might become less common with age. Although most of the behaviors examined were not uncommon, it was rare for children to exhibit several behaviors and/or to display a given behavior frequently. Thus, although the presence of a single repetitive behavior should not be considered a ‘red flag’ for ASD, the existence of several or frequent ‘unusual’ behaviors should be. That being said, the fact that a small subsample of TD children had high total scores suggests that even with a conservative approach to diagnosis, there is still the risk for false positives, particularly if clinicians are swayed by the presence of ‘unusual’ behaviors. These findings therefore highlight the importance of clinical expertise in the complexities of both typical development and the very early ASD phenotype across several domains of behavior.
See more of: Sensory Systems, Motor Systems, and Reptetative Behavior
See more of: Autism Symptoms