Imitation allows autistic kids to connect

MICHIGAN STATE (US) — Young children with autism who are taught imitation skills make more attempts to draw attention to an object through gestures and eye contact, an ability often missing with autism.

Imitation is an important development skill that allows infants and young children to interact and learn from others. However, children with autism often show a lack of ability to imitate.

While autism is typically diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3, new research is finding symptoms of autism disorders in children as young as 12 months, according to a new study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders that analyzed children who were 27 months to 47 months old.


The findings come at a pivotal time in autism research, says Brooke Ingersoll, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University.

“It’s pretty exciting. We, as a field, are getting a much better idea of what autism looks like in infants and toddlers than we did even five years ago.”

In the past several years, researchers have begun to detect behaviors and symptoms of autism that could make earlier diagnosis and even intervention possible, she says.

“I think there’s a lot of hope that if we can figure out the right behaviors early enough, and intervene early enough, we may be able to prevent the development of autism.”

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