Functional Implications of Adaptive Behavior Deficits in Higher Functioning ASD’s: Eye Tracking Paradigms to Screen for Infants at Risk for ASD by Celine Saulnier Ph.D

( notes by Kai Long, MS SLP CCC from AANE conference on Current Autism Research)

Researchers are looking for a way to screen infants at risks for ASD so they can receive treatment before 3 years of age. Dr. Saulnier noted, that even infants showed the absence of typical developing milestones. They were quieter, made unusual, and repetitive sounds, no single word by 16 months, no spontaneous speech, and no social engagement. She showed a video clip of a mom trying to interact with her infant.  The infant is pulling back and pulling away which is unusual behavior at this age.

In Dr. Saulnier’s talk, she discussed the fact that milder symptoms didn’t necessarily mean better adaptive skills. She spoke about the gap between abilities and functional use of abilities being a defining characteristic of autism. If this is the case, she advocated teaching how to learn and self advocacy skills. In addition, she suggested we focus on fostering independence. She stated that all people with ASD need to be taught daily living skills. Her presentation was the most helpful and functional for me as a therapist because I what I see in clients on the autism spectrum in regard to language is a disconnected between acquisition of language and use.

She suggested that the following needs to be taught:

 

I need help

I don’t know what to do now?

I don’t understand?

What did you say?

Can you clarify that?