Could your six-month-old’s current behaviour indicate a higher risk for autism in the future?
A study published in the September issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry has found that an early marker for later communication and social delays in infants at a higher risk for autism is infrequent gazing at other people when unprompted. Six-month-old infants in the study were given the opportunity to pay attention to either an object or their caregiver. Those in the high-risk group were not as engaged or socially interactive on their own as their peers, though they would still respond when prompted by their caregivers. Dr. Rebecca Landa, one of the authors of the study and director of Kennedy Krieger’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders, says this could be “a subtle difference that could be easily overlooked by both parents and some professionals.”
She recommends teaching infants simple songs paired with easy, predictable gestures to promote language and social learning, rather than using electronic toys that can be enjoyed and operated without engaging with others. Humans are interactive social beings. No electronic toy, TV show or computer software can replace the interaction with another human being!