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Autism. 2005 Dec;9(5):461-86.

Parental report of the early development of children with regressive autism: the delays-plus-regression phenotype.

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University of California-Davis, CA 95817, USA.


Most children with autism demonstrate developmental abnormalities in their first year, whereas others display regression after mostly normal development. Few studies have examined the early development of the latter group. This study developed a retrospective measure, the Early Development Questionnaire (EDQ), to collect specific, parent-reported information about development in the first 18 months. Based on their EDQ scores, 60 children with autism between the ages of 3 and 9 were divided into three groups: an early onset group (n = 29), a definite regression group (n = 23), and a heterogeneous mixed group (n = 8). Significant differences in early social development were found between the early onset and regression groups. However, over 50 percent of the children who experienced a regression demonstrated some early social deficits during the first year of life, long before regression and the apparent onset of autism. This group, tentatively labeled 'delays-plus-regression', deserves further study.

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