Mid-Atlantic Consortium Newsletter Summer 2013

Autism Spectrum Disorder, Brain Development and Children’s Abilities

Research conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and directed by Robert Schultz, Ph.D., and Sarah Paterson, Ph.D., is using MRI technology to evaluate how autism develops in very young children and affects early brain development in children later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Siblings of children diagnosed with ASD have an increased risk of developing autism themselves. The Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) observes these young siblings from six months of age until they turn three, monitoring progress in language development, and gross and fine motor skills, along with how they explore and interact with the world around them. The research is designed to identify the underlying causes and brain mechanisms involved in autism, and how those mechanisms are correlated with particular behaviors and mental abilities. Examining the early behavioral and neurological markers of autism in infants not only will help to identify autism in younger children, but also will give these children the opportunity to benefit from interventions that may improve their social and cognitive functioning.

Participants in this study may include infant siblings of a child already diagnosed with an ASD, or infant siblings of typically developing children. The research is being conducted at four sites throughout the country, including CHOP.

For more information, contact Julianne Fretz by phone at 1-866-570-6524 or by email at autism@email.chop.edu.