Movement analysis in infancy may be useful for early diagnosis of autism

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Nov 10;95(23):13982-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.95.23.13982.


All of the 17 autistic children studied in the present paper showed disturbances of movement that with our methods could be detected clearly at the age of 4-6 months, and sometimes even at birth. We used the Eshkol-Wachman Movement Analysis System in combination with still-frame videodisc analysis to study videos obtained from parents of children who had been diagnosed as autistic by conventional methods, usually around 3 years old. The videos showed their behaviors when they were infants, long before they had been diagnosed as autistic. The movement disorders varied from child to child. Disturbances were revealed in the shape of the mouth and in some or all of the milestones of development, including, lying, righting, sitting, crawling, and walking. Our findings support the view that movement disturbances play an intrinsic part in the phenomenon of autism, that they are present at birth, and that they can be used to diagnose the presence of autism in the first few months of life. They indicate the need for the development of methods of therapy to be applied from the first few months of life in autism.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Movement*