[Truncated abstract] There are few existing screening instruments designed to identify Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at an early age, such as the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) and the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). Unfortunately, many are limited in their ability to identify children at risk in the first two years of life while displaying an acceptable level of reliability. Given this limitation, the present study aimed to identify any additional early markers of ASD from either the retrospective analysis of early autistic symptomatology (parental report and video analysis of footage made before the diagnosis) or performance-based measures linked to different theoretical accounts of ASD. Specifically, measures addressing theory of mind, executive dysfunction and weak central coherence were developed. In the first study, parents of three groups of children those of typical development (n = 19, mean CA = 26 months), children with an ASD (n = 39, mean CA = 34 months) and children with developmental delay (n = 14, mean CA = 28 months) were interviewed about their child's early development. In the first study, parents of three groups of children those of typical development (n = 19, mean CA = 26 months), children with an ASD (n = 39, mean CA = 34 months) and children with developmental delay (n = 14, mean CA = 28 months) were interviewed about their child's early development. Several behaviours discriminated children with ASD from children with typical development and children with delayed development. ... A discriminant function analysis using the two factor scores indicated that Factor 1 discriminated the ADI-R groups, while Factor 2 scores did not add to the ability of Factor 1 scores to discriminate the ADI-R groups. Furthermore, while the finding that joint attention behaviours differentiated children with ASD from children with typical development and children with delayed development, more research is needed to determine if this impairment is a precursor of a theory of mind deficit or if this impairment and later appearing impairments in theory of mind are the result of a more global impairment in social-emotional approach behaviours. Additional research is also needed to determine the relationship between the early appearing deficits in joint attention and the impairments in social relating behaviours that appear to develop later in the chronology of ASD development and how both of these relate to the theory of mind hypothesis of ASD.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2006|