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Earliest Sign of Autism: The Eyes May Have It

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Declining eye contact in infants as young as 2 months old may be one of the earliest indicators of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), suggests new research published online November 6 in Nature. "Unexpectedly, those early levels of eye looking seem to begin at normative levels," the researchers write. "This contradicts prior hypotheses of a congenital absence of social adaptive orientation and suggests instead that some social adaptive behaviors may initially be intact in newborns later diagnosed with ASD," they add. Researchers from Yale previously showed that brain activity, as recorded by electroencephalogram (EEG), after toddlers made eye contact was weaker for those with ASD compared with their normally developing counterparts. According to Dr Levinson, "This research is very important in indicating that eye contact deteriorates rapidly following birth. Perhaps very early stimulating interventions may be helpful? Although ASD has been previously identified with cerebellar-vestibular dysfunction which may respond favorably to related therapies, the basic impairment significantly remains intact. I've always believed Autism is a uniquely distinct communication disorder despite the coexistence of cerebellar-vestibular involvement which may contribute to ocular fixation and contact difficulties as well as medically treatable overlapping dyslexia and ADHD."

About Harold Levinson, M.D.

Formerly Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University Medical Center, Dr. Harold Levinson is currently Director of the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities in Great Neck, New York. He is a well known neuropsychiatrist, clinical researcher and author. His "highly original" research into the cerebellar- vestibular (inner-ear) origins and treatment of dyslexia and related learning, attention-deficit/hyperactivity and anxiety or phobic disorders has evolved over the past four decades. Initially supported by Nobel Laureate Sir John Eccles and other outstanding cerebellar neurophysiologists and inner-ear experts, Levinson's research has more recently been independently validated worldwide by highly sophisticated neuroimaging brain studies.

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