Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #10
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Pushing the Envelope: Just How Early can we Identify Anomalous Development in ASD?

Saturday, May 24, 2014
1:00 PM–1:50 PM
W375e (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AUT; Domain: Service Delivery
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Jennifer N. Fritz, Ph.D.
Chair: Jennifer N. Fritz (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
PAULINE A. FILIPEK (The University of Texas Health Science Center)
Dr. Pauline A. Filipek is a professor of pediatrics in the Children's Learning Institute (CLI) and Division of Child and Adolescent Neurology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston. She received her B.S. and M.D. from Georgetown University; and she completed a pediatric residency (including chief residency) at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester and a child neurology fellowship and MRI-based Morphometry Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She was recruited to the Children's Learning Institute because of her expertise in clinical and research aspects of children with autistic spectrum disorders and is the director of the CLI's Autism Center. Although her clinical practice is open to children of all ages with autistic spectrum disorders, her specific clinical and research interests surround the earliest identification of warning signs for autism and related disorders in very young infants, even before the first birthday. Dr. Filipek also is the ambassador for Texas to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Learn the Signs. Act Early. Initiative and recently received the Texas Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) and the Texas Autism State Planning grants, both from Health Resources and Services Administration.

The earliest identification of atypical development among very young infants at risk for a later diagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is important to facilitate the earliest possible intervention. Existing literature generally presents that anomalous development is not identifiable until the end of the first year of life. However, this is discordant with clinical anecdotes supporting the premise that, in at least some infants, consistent anomalous behaviors may be identified very early, as early as at ages 3-6 months or even before, that may reliably predict an eventual determination of ASD. Dr. Filipek will first present the course of typical development in the first year of life through video segments to focus on the development of social communication as the hallmark target of atypical development. The existing literature pertaining to findings of anomalous development in the first year of life will be briefly reviewed, with specific attention to study designs focusing on infants who are or are not "at risk" versus infants who eventually are or are not diagnosed with ASD. The newest findings will be presented to document the existence of anomalous development as early as at 3 months of age.

Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, graduate students, and anyone interested in autism.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to (1) Discuss the more “subtle” aspects of infant development, particularly those of social communication; (2) Identify signs of anomalous development in very young infants; and (3) Discuss the existing literature pertaining to identification of early signs of ASD in very young infants.



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