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Study Finds Atypical Communications in Autism May Aid Diagnosis, Treatment Targets

Autistic child
Recognizing atypical communications as diverse symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in children may help aid specific diagnosis.

STONY BROOK, NY, March 1 , 2019 –  A team of Stony Brook University autism researchers investigating atypical communications characteristics (such as repeating words or having unusual utterances) of children being treated for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) found that these youths experience a wider range of communication difficulties compared to youth with other psychiatric conditions. Additionally, the researchers discovered social communications in these children do not exist in only one form, but rather can be described by diverse symptoms.

Led by Erin Kang in the Department of Psychology, and published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, the study included some 1,000 children ages 6 to 18.

“Youth with ASD appear to be grouped into different patterns of communication difficulties,” explains Kang. “These groups differed not only in their ASD symptoms but also with other mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, and whether they receive special education, have co-occurring intellectual disability, or struggle socially.”

The findings, she emphasized, suggest that recognizing atypical communications characteristics as diverse symptoms and occurring in subgroups in ASD provides new information to clinicians that will help them better define ASD symptoms and therefore diagnosis, and develop more flexible treatment strategies adapting to differing needs.

About Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University, widely regarded as a SUNY flagship, is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with nearly 26,000 students, more than 2,700 faculty members and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University is among a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University fuels Long island’s economic growth. Its impact on the Long island economy amounts to $7.38 billion in increased output. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

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