A. How Attention to Faces and Objects Changes Over Time in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Preliminary Evidence from An Eye Tracking Study. Brain Sci. 2019, 9, 344.

Further understanding of the longitudinal changes in visual pattern of toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is needed. We examined twelve 19 to 33-month-old toddlers at their first diagnosis (mean age: 25.1 months) and after six months (mean age: 31.7 months) during two initiating joint attention (IJA) tasks using eye tracking. Results were compared with the performance of age-matched typically developing (TD) toddlers evaluated at a single time-point. Autistic toddlers showed longitudinal changes in the visual sensory processing of the IJA tasks, approaching TD performance with an improvement in the ability to disengage and to explore the global space. Findings suggest the use of eye tracking technology as an objective, non-intrusive, adjunctive tool to measure outcomes in toddlers with ASD.

Parental Perspectives on Psychiatric Comorbidity in Preschoolers With Autism Spectrum Disorders Receiving Publicly Funded Mental Health Services. Front. Psychiatry 10:107.

An increased prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity (PC) in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is consistently reported. While several studies have examined PC in school-aged children, adolescents and adults with ASD, investigations on PC in preschoolers are less common. In this study, we explore the prevalence and the type of PC in a sample of 989 preschoolers with ASD through the DSM-Oriented Scales (DOS) of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL 1½-5) and their possible links with the core features of ASD and cognitive functioning. Results indicated that 37.8% of the sample had at least one PC in addition to ASD; these subjects displayed significantly higher Total score (p = 0.02) and Social Affect score (p = 0.003) on the ADOS-based calibrated severity scores (CSS), as well as lower (p ≤ 0.0001) performance IQ (pIQ) compared to ASD individuals without PC. As far as the specific DOS, Affective Problems (AP) were detected in 23.4% of the whole sample, ADHD Problems (ADHD) in 17.3%, Anxiety Problems (AXP) in 16.7%, and Oppositional Problems (OP) in 7.9%. These different comorbidities were isolated in 195 subjects (Mono-comorbid group: 19.7% of the whole sample), while 179 subjects (18.1% of the whole sample) had two or more types of PC (Multi-comorbid group). One-way ANOVA revealed that subjects with multi-comorbidity have statistically significant lower pIQ and higher Total score and Social Affect score on CSS-ADOS. Specific differences for each type of comorbidity and gender differences were also discussed. Taken together, results indicate a considerable presence of PC in preschoolers with ASD that should be accurately considered during the assessment and diagnosis process in order to plan a tailored intervention based not only on core symptoms of ASD, but also on comorbid psychiatric condition since preschool age.