Legend: Latent growth curve modeling of longitudinal data (age 2-5 years) for 129 young children with ASD revealed four severity trajectory classes based on calibrated severity scores from the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS): Persistent High (n=47); Persistent Moderate (n=54), Worsening (n=10), and Improving (n=18). The dashed line indicates the mean trajectory within each class.
Citation: Venker CE, Ray-Subramanian CE, Bolt DM, Ellis Weismer S. (2014) Trajectories of autism severity in early childhood. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 44(3):546-63.
Abstract: Relatively little is known about trajectories of autism severity using calibrated severity scores (CSS) from the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, but characterizing these trajectories has important theoretical and clinical implications. This study examined CSS trajectories during early childhood. Participants were 129 children with autism spectrum disorder evaluated annually from ages 2 ½ to 5 ½. The four severity trajectory classes that emerged – Persistent High (n=47), Persistent Moderate (n=54), Worsening (n=10), and Improving (n=18) – were strikingly similar to those identified by Gotham et al. (Pediatrics 130(5):e1278-e1284, 2012). Children in the Persistent High trajectory class had the most severe functional skill deficits in baseline nonverbal cognition and daily living skills and in receptive and expressive language growth.
About the investigator: Ellis Weismer’s research focuses on investigating the developmental course and nature of language processing in typically developing children, late takers, and children with specific language impairment (SLI). She is particularly interested in exploring the relationship between language and aspects of cognitive functioning, such as working memory capacity, in children with language learning difficulties. More recent work has focused on characterizing early language abilities of toddlers on the autism spectrum and examining the overlap between late talkers with and without autism to evaluate the ‘distinct category’ versus ‘dimensional’ accounts of language disorders.