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Early symptoms of autism: preschool observation or ADOS in a specialised clinic - what works best?

Participants: Gunilla Westman Andersson, Carmela Miniscalco, Ulrika Johansson & Christopher Gillberg.

Background: Early detection and early intervention in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have proven to be of importance for the child's positive development. It is therefore of great importance that methods are evaluated and developed in order to identify early symptoms in children with ASD.

Study: The study is conducted within the AUDIE-project (AUtism Detection and Intervention in Early life) and 40 children under the age of four were included in the collected data. The activities included in the ADOS-algorithm were observed by a special education teacher in a preschool environment and as part of the regular preschool activities. Another independent special education teacher then conducted the same activities with the same children in a clinic by doing ADOS together with another colleague. The results of these two observations were compared with each other.

Results: There was a strong correlation between the observations in the two environments. Only regarding spontaneous initiation of joint attention did we find a significant difference, with greater difficulties being observed when using ADOS. The results suggest that the observations can be made either at the clinic or in preschools. We do know however that other important information, besides that gained through formal observations, is retrieved from preschools, for example how the child deals with various social situations, something that we do not capture in the clinic.


Westman Andersson, G., Miniscalco, C., Johansson, U., & Gillberg, C. (2013). Autism in toddlers: Can observation in preschool yield the same information as autism assessment in a specialised clinic?  Scientific World Journal, 2013, 384745.

Page Manager: Anna Spyrou|Last update: 3/20/2014

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