Babies At-risk for Autism: Assumptions, Progress and Prospects

Invited, Keynote Speakers, Awards
Saturday, May 12, 2018: 9:00 AM
Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
M. H. Johnson, Centre of Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck College, University of London, London, United Kingdom
For over a decade a number of research groups world-wide have studied infants at-risk of autism in order to reveal the early developmental pathway that results in diagnosis. I will discuss the key assumptions that underpin this body of research, and the general approach taken of prospective longitudinal studies. Key conclusions from research so far will be illustrated by selected studies from our group in the UK (BASIS) and a European network (Eurosibs). Despite many findings, however, a number of fundamental issues about the early emergence of autism remain unresolved. I will argue that some of these issues may be resolved if autism is seen as being the result of a common alternative trajectory of human brain development. By this view autism is not a disorder of development, but rather an ordered developmental response to a different starting state.