Parent Prediction of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Infants At Risk: A Follow-up Study
Wang, Chloe Qian
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Later-born siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are considered at biological risk for ASD and the broader autism phenotype. Early screening may detect early signs of ASD and facilitate intervention as soon as possible. This follow-up study revisits and re-examines a second-degree autism screener for children at biological risk of autism, the Parent Observation Early Markers Scale (POEMS, Feldman et al., 2012). Using available follow-up information, 110 children (the original 108 infants plus 2 infants recruited after the completion of the original study) were divided into three groups: diagnosed group (n = 13), lost diagnosis group (n = 5), and undiagnosed group (n = 92). The POEMS continued to show acceptable predictive validity. The POEMS total scores and mean number of elevated items were significantly higher in the diagnosed group than the undiagnosed group. The lost diagnosis group did not differ from the undiagnosed group on POEMS total scores and elevated items at any age, but the lost diagnosis group had significantly lower total scores and number of elevated items than the diagnosed group starting at 18 months. Both ASD core and subsidiary behaviours differentiated the diagnosed and undiagnosed groups from 9−36 months of age. Using 70 as a cut-off score, sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value (PPV) were .69, .84, and .38, respectively. The study provides further evidence that the POEMS may serve as a low-cost early screener for ASD in at risk children and pinpoint specific developmental and behavioural problems that may be amenable to very early intervention.