Teaching young children with autism to imitate others may improve a broader range of social skills, according to a new study by a Michigan State University scholar. The findings come at a pivotal time in autism research. In the past several years, researchers have begun to detect behaviors and symptoms of autism that could make earlier diagnosis and even intervention like this possible, said Brooke Ingersoll, MSU assistant professor of psychology. “It’s pretty exciting,” Ingersoll said. “I think we, as a field, are getting a much better idea of what autism looks like in infants and toddlers than we did even five years ago.” In the current study, Ingersoll found that toddlers and preschoolers with autism who were taught imitation skills made more attempts to draw the examiner’s attention to an object through gestures and eye contact, a key area of deficit in autism.
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