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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Mathematics - Mental Health - Neurological Disorders - Pediatrics and Child Health

Do Parents Recognize Autistic Deviant Behavior Long before Diagnosis? Taking into Account Interaction Using Computational Methods
Published: Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Author: Catherine Saint-Georges et al.

by Catherine Saint-Georges, Ammar Mahdhaoui, Mohamed Chetouani, Raquel S. Cassel, Marie-Christine Laznik, Fabio Apicella, Pietro Muratori, Sandra Maestro, Filippo Muratori, David Cohen


To assess whether taking into account interaction synchrony would help to better differentiate autism (AD) from intellectual disability (ID) and typical development (TD) in family home movies of infants aged less than 18 months, we used computational methods.

Methodology and Principal Findings

First, we analyzed interactive sequences extracted from home movies of children with AD (N?=?15), ID (N?=?12), or TD (N?=?15) through the Infant and Caregiver Behavior Scale (ICBS). Second, discrete behaviors between baby (BB) and Care Giver (CG) co-occurring in less than 3 seconds were selected as single interactive patterns (or dyadic events) for analysis of the two directions of interaction (CG?BB and BB?CG) by group and semester. To do so, we used a Markov assumption, a Generalized Linear Mixed Model, and non negative matrix factorization. Compared to TD children, BBs with AD exhibit a growing deviant development of interactive patterns whereas those with ID rather show an initial delay of development. Parents of AD and ID do not differ very much from parents of TD when responding to their child. However, when initiating interaction, parents use more touching and regulation up behaviors as early as the first semester.


When studying interactive patterns, deviant autistic behaviors appear before 18 months. Parents seem to feel the lack of interactive initiative and responsiveness of their babies and try to increasingly supply soliciting behaviors. Thus we stress that credence should be given to parents' intuition as they recognize, long before diagnosis, the pathological process through the interactive pattern with their child.