A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Spring, 2019 | Number 2, Volume 33

Atypical vocalizations may emerge early in children with ASD

A new report suggests that children who later develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may exhibit differences in vocalizing with caregivers beginning as early as four months of age. 

Gordon Ramsay and colleagues studied the vocal communications between 78 infants and their caregivers from birth until the children reached two years of age. Of the children, 33 had no family history of autism. The remainder were younger siblings of children with ASD, putting them at increased risk for developing ASD themselves. The researchers recorded vocal interactions between children and caregivers one day each month over the course of the study, using a device called Language Environment Analysis (LENA) that the babies wore in a pocket in their clothes. 

By the age of three, 10 of the high-risk children received an ASD diagnosis. The researchers report that babies in the high-risk group who developed autism began showing fewer vocalizations than controls as early as four months of age. Even high-risk children who did not receive an ASD diagnosis di-verged from the control group by 18 months. 

The researchers are currently investigating a larger group of more than 200 infants, and plan to examine other measures of vocalization, such as babbling and crying.


“Signs of autism may be heard early in infancy,” Jessica Wright, Spectrum News, May 4, 2019. Ramsay and colleagues presented their findings at the May 2019 International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) meeting in Montreal, Canada.