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J Autism Dev Disord. 2005 Oct;35(5):657-64.

Brief report: early social communication behaviors in the younger siblings of children with autism.

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Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine 92697, USA.


The early social and communicative development of very young siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the focus of the current study. Three groups of children were included: (1) young children diagnosed with ASD, (2) younger siblings in families with a somewhat older child with ASD, and (3) young typically developing children. All children participated in a videotaped, structured interactional procedure called the Early Social Communication Scales (ESCS; [Mundy & Hogan, 1996, A Preliminary Manual for the Abridged Early Social Communication Scales (ESCS) Unpublished manual, University of Miami]). Very young siblings were compared to young children with a diagnosed autism spectrum disorder and to a group of young typically developing children. Results indicated that, on three of four of the ESCS subscales, the social communicative behaviors of the younger siblings differed from those of the typically developing children but not from the behaviors displayed by the ASD group. Genetic vulnerability for ASD among siblings and characteristics of family interaction may explain the level of impairment observed in the very young siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders.

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