Are there subtypes of autism? Language regression study supports controversial hypothesis

Image: MNStudio/Shutterstock

Autistic children who lose words reach key milestones earlier than autistic children without language regression, according to a new study.

The idea of ‘regressive autism’ is controversial: Some researchers argue that all autistic children lose language or other skills at some point and that, like autism itself, regression is on a spectrum. Others say regression characterizes a subtype of children with autism.

The new study supports the latter hypothesis.

[Researcher Idan] Menashe and his colleagues studied children who spoke at least three words for at least a month before losing that vocabulary. They found that these children began to crawl, walk and talk at the same age, on average, as typical children do, suggesting that they were developing typically before the regression’s onset. By contrast, autistic children without language regression gained these skills several months later and were already on a different developmental trajectory.

Related article:  Understanding autism's broad spectrum can 'save' family relationships

Accounting for children who don’t fall neatly into either category is easier said than done, however. “We looked at the two extremes knowing we might miss a lot of people that might not fit into these two groups,” Menashe says. “Maybe it is actually one continuum, but it’s very difficult to define.”

Read full, original post: Language regression in autism tied to motor milestones

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