12:41am Monday 23 September 2019

Purdue study seeks infant siblings of children with autism

The researchers are seeking infants 6-18 months old who have at least one older sibling diagnosed with autism. The younger sibling will need to visit Purdue’s Developmental Studies Laboratory about every three to six months, as well as participate in home visits to assess physiological development, sleep regulation and language development. The study continues until 30 months of age.

“Because 20 to 40 percent of the younger siblings of children with autism develop autism, we are interested in the development of these younger children,” said study leader A.J. Schwichtenberg, assistant professor
 of human development and family studies and psychological sciences. “We hope to learn more so we can bring the age of diagnosis down for autism. Participating in this study also will provide families opportunities to learn more about the individual development of the younger sibling.”

Child development experts will provide regular feedback regarding the baby’s development, including assessments of fine and gross motor skills, speech understanding and speaking, emotional regulation, and visual reception. In addition to these younger siblings being at risk for autism, they also are at higher risk for other developmental issues such as language delays and social difficulties. Sibling boys are more likely to develop autism and sibling girls have higher rates of other developmental problems. Autism is a communicative and developmental disorder that can vary in severity and affect how people interact with others. It is estimated that 1 in 88 children have some form of autism.

The older sibling with autism can be any age, and the children should be at least half biologically related to each other. Participating families can earn up to $350 from the individual $25 reimbursement for each visit and a completed questionnaire packet. Anyone interested in learning more or participating can call 765-494-6610 or email AJLab@purdue.edu. This study is funded by a $900,000 grant that Schwichtenberg received in 2011 from the National Institute of Mental Health. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu 

Source: A.J. Schwichtenberg, 765-496-2780 or aschwich@purdue.edu

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