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Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Recommendations for Practice and Research


Early identification of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is essential to ensure that children can access specialized evidence-based interventions that can help to optimize long-term outcomes. Early identification also helps shorten the stressful "diagnostic odyssey" that many families experience before diagnosis. There have been important advances in research into the early development of ASDs, incorporating prospective designs and new technologies aimed at more precisely delineating the early emergence of ASD. Thus, an updated review of the state of the science of early identification of ASD was needed to inform best practice. These issues were the focus of a multidisciplinary panel of clinical practitioners and researchers who completed a literature review and reached consensus on current evidence addressing the question "What are the earliest signs and symptoms of ASD in children aged ≤24 months that can be used for early identification?" Summary statements address current knowledge on early signs of ASD, potential contributions and limitations of prospective research with high-risk infants, and priorities for promoting the incorporation of this knowledge into clinical practice and future research.

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