Autism during infancy: a retrospective video analysis of sensory-motor and social behaviors at 9-12 months of age

J Autism Dev Disord. 1999 Jun;29(3):213-24. doi: 10.1023/a:1023080005650.


This retrospective video study explored the usefulness of sensory-motor measures in addition to social behaviors as early predictors of autism during infancy. Three groups included 11 children with autism, 10 with developmental disabilities, and 11 typically developing children. Home videos were edited to obtain a 10-minute cross-section of situations at 9-12 months for each subjects. Using interval scoring, raters coded several behavioral categories (i.e., Looking, Affect, Response to Name, Anticipatory Postures, Motor/Object Stereotypies, Social Touch, Sensory Modulation). Nine items, in combination, were found to discriminate the three groups with a correct classification rate of 93.75%. These findings indicate that subtle symptoms of autism are present at 9-12 months, and suggest that early assessment procedures need to consider sensory processing/sensory-motor functions in addition to social responses during infancy. Furthermore, prior to a time that they reported autistic symptoms, caregivers used compensatory strategies to increase the saliency of stimuli in order to engage their children more successfully; these strategies may provide a window for earlier diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / complications
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Motor Skills Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Motor Skills Disorders / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensation Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Sensation Disorders / etiology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Social Behavior*
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / diagnosis
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / etiology
  • Video Recording