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NeuroEd Research Page

On top of our Blogs and FAQ pages, we aim to ensure up to date, relevant research is accessible and shared in order to raise awareness, build knowledge and facilitate learning.


Our Research Pages includes a range of texts through publications and journals within different fields in order to provide a wider understanding of the complexities and approaches needed in supporting children and young people. 

Developmental trajectories of sensory patterns from infancy to school age in a community sample and associations with autistic traits

Correlations between sensory patterns/preferences with Autism and ASD traits during early years and early childhood.


Summary: Sensory patterns of children on the autism spectrum, and those who had ASD traits but were not diagnosed, grew stronger over time.


In 2013, researchers at University of Southern California and University of North Carolina began a 'prospective study' following a cohort of more than 1,500 children, measuring their sensory patterns as the children developed through a 6 year period from infancy to school age. The researchers have now generated insights into the associations between those sensory changes and various child and family characteristics, including the eventual emergence of autistic symptoms or an autism diagnosis once the children were six or seven years old.

Within the study, Parents were asked about their child’s sensory behaviours during three childhood stages: at infancy (9–16 months old), at preschool (3–4 years old) and at school-age (6–7 years old). Parents were also asked about their child’s autistic symptoms, about various developmental concerns and whether or not their child had received any diagnoses.

Data showed that the sensory patterns of autistic children, as well as children with autistic traits (but who had not been diagnosed with ASD), tended to grow stronger over time. In comparison, non-autistic children’s sensory patterns, including those with parent-reported sensory issues, were relatively steadier across development.

These findings may alter how researchers identify and study ASD and how interventions are conducted from a more early stage and in order to benefit parents and families. “We used to think that social communication differences were the most important behavioural markers for identifying autism in infancy,” Yun-Ju (Claire) Chen Ph.D

The study found that once children were at school age towards the end of the study, those diagnoses with ASD sensory patterns followed "very different trajectories", compared to children with neurotypical outcomes.

Chen went on to explain that “Previous studies have tended to compare sensory patterns across different age ranges by aggregating all their cross-sectional data, which makes it hard to draw conclusions about any one specific participant,”....“But we know that every child has their own trajectory, so our type of data analysis really is a more person-centered approach.”

Co-author of the study, Baranek said “The earlier we identify infants at elevated likelihood for autism and begin intervention, the greater the potential for every child to grow to their fullest capacity,”

Acces the full article and study here:

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