Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yale Center to Study Development of Infants Who Show Autistic Signs

The Yale Child Study Center received a $3.5 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to conduct a five-year study into the earliest manifestations of autism in infants, and how such children subsequently develop communication skills and other functions.

The leader of the five-year study is Dr. Fred R. Volkmar, a child psychiatrist, Yale Medical School professor and leading researcher on autism at Yale who has been a key figure in defining what an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis entails. A short bio at the Yale Child Study Center website explains that Volkmar "was the coordinator of the International Field Trial for autism and related disorders, which developed the definition of autism used in DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, Fourth Edition, 1994).

The researchers issued a press release last week (read it here) that describes the project as "an ongoing, multidisciplinary research program on autism and related developmental disorders" that "focuses on developmental aspects and outcomes for affected patients." The release also says:

Autism is a developmental disorder that has a profound effect on socialization, communication, learning and other behaviors. In most cases, onset is early in infancy. Information on the earliest development aspects of autism in children has been limited even though three to four of every thousand individuals are affected.

The interdisciplinary program brings together existing and new expertise, infrastructure and resources focused on diagnosis, early detection, causes and treatment of autism.

The Yale Daily News, the university's campus newspaper, today reports that this autism research grant could benefit early childhood and special education programs that the Child Study Center has been working on in the New Haven, Conn., area. Read the story here.

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