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Validation d'un outil de dépistage précoce de l'autisme – DEPISTAUTISME

Submission summary

1 – Scientific background and rationale Autism is a developmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication and behavior. Recent findings on Autism and its evolution confirm the interest in an early diagnosis enabling the immediate implementation of a stimulation that might partially correct certain deficits, promote development, and support families. The signs that are necessary for an early diagnosis are not well known by the general public. Often discrete, their identification requires some expertise as they affect the qualitative aspects of social behavior. While early diagnosis of Autism remains a specialist's business the early screening setup for development disorder detection in the general population could considerably reduce the time it takes for a child at risk to see a specialist. 2 – Description of the project methodology The voluntary parents taking part in the research, will be polled among the families bringing their child to a GP, a pediatrician, or the local PMI (early intervention services) for a regular second birthday checkup. Parents answer a series of 23 questions on the usual behavior of their child. In addition to the usual examination procedure, the doctor observes the child's social behavior in situations that can reveal anomalies to be reported. (behavioral patterns validated by former studies and having a predictive value). The doctors who have agreed to participate in this research have received full training to spot these signs. Further to the parents' answers to the questionnaire, if any doubt subsides on a child's developmental deviance, the family will be seen again. If any doubt is raised because the answers indicate that the questions were misunderstood, the investigation will end there. The doctor will record the same observations on the child's behavior on the next visits. If anomalies are observed during the visit, a complete evaluation of the child¿s developmental and social behavior is proposed. The parents are interviewed so that the diagnosis can be confirmed or invalidated. As it is established that the signs are clearer at 3 years of age than they are at 2, the children are seen again 6 months, and then one year after the original inclusion visit to confirm the diagnosis. All of the children are seen again by their doctor (specifically trained to detect behavioral signs) at 30 and 36 months of age, regardless of whether they are considered at risk. The results of the questionnaire are correlated with the child's status at 30 and 36 months of age. (typical development, delay, qualitative developmental anomaly matching autistic criteria, or any other invasive developmental disorder). This is meant to determine, with the appropriate statistical measures, the sensitivity and the specificity of the questionnaire. 3 - Expected results The validation of a questionnaire completed by the parents will provide a tool that will facilitate the detection of children at risk in the general population. Our purpose is to verify that the answers of parents to simple questions on their child's behavior can enable the detection of developmental anomalies later confirmed by specialists. This study will thus make it possible to dispose of a validated screening tool. The study program includes training in early signs of autism for pediatricians, early intervention specialists, and GPs. The participation in the program is expected to increase these physicians' capacity to detect early signs and to react accordingly by swiftly referring the children to the specialists who are able to confirm diagnoses and implement the appropriate stimulation. Due to cerebral plasticity and to the developmental nature of autism, early intervention constitutes an essential element of prognosis.

Project coordination

Bernadette ROGE (Université)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CRA AQUITAINE Centre de Ressources Autisme Bordeaux Aquitaine

Help of the ANR 220,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 36 Months

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