Hanna A AlonimThe Mifne Center and Bar Ilan University, Israel
Title: Bridging the gap between early detection of autism prodrome in infants; assessment and intervention
Introduction: Clinicians and researchers increasingly realize the importance of early intervention for autism. Very early intervention may minimize the severity of the phenotypic presentation of autism during infancy when neural connections are being developed. However, intervention is contingent upon a diagnosis of autism – which in most developed countries occurs above the age of 24 months – resulting in missing a critical therapeutic opportunity for early intervention.
Aim of the Study: This study aimed to detect the prodromal variables that may characterize significant risk for the later development of autism, in order to propose therapeutic strategies during this window of opportunities.
Methods: This study examined the first year of life of 110 infants from various countries, who were diagnosed with autism at age 2-3 years. Analysis was conducted of home videos recorded during the infants' first year of life. Data was collated and analysed in terms of individual physical- sensory-emotional-cognitive variables.
Results: Eight prodromal variables were exhibited among 89% of the infants participating in this study. Cluster analysis of combinations of variables was significant. The results of this study indicate that detecting the prodrome of autism depends primarily on the ability to identify various combinations of indicative symptoms. The prodrome of autism could be seen in those participants at the age of 4-5 months old.
Conclusions: The variables elicited by this study provide the basis for the early assessment scale for prodromal variables associated with autism. The variables provided the basis for developing the Screening Scale in Infants ESPASSI©, which is applied clinically for infants between 5-15 months. Effective application of this screening scale is of utility in bridging the gap between early assessment and intervention, for infants at high risk for autism during the very early neurodevelopmental stages. This study gradually led to the very early age of assessment and intervention; at one year old, and even earlier.
Hanna A Alonim, is an expert and researcher in the autism spectrum in infancy. Founder and Head of the Mifne Center Israel, for Treatment, Training, and Research, since 1987. Established the Detection Unit foe Infants at the Sourasky Medical TLV Center in in 2007. She is the Head of the Therapists' Training School for Autism at the Bar Ilan University since 2001. She developed the ESPASSI © screening scale for the detection of autism prodrome in the first year of life. She is a committee member of the WHO ICF Core Set for ASD, 2016.