Q: Is there evidence that regression may be a universal aspect of autism rather than one subtype of autism?
We have to be cautious about saying that anything is universal in autism. Autism involves so much diversity. Rather, I’d say that regression may be much more common than we used to think.
This may be especially true if we broaden our definition of regression beyond loss of language and look at how kids are losing skills before they speak. When we track their communication skills and abilities over time, starting in infancy, we see evidence that they’re doing certain things less. There’s a larger proportion of kids where we see evidence that they’re not as socially engaged at 9 or 12 months as they were at 6 months.
And there are some babies who are not progressing at the same pace as they were earlier, and as a result, they’re starting to fall behind skills.
As a result of all these things, I think we may be getting away from the notion that regression is in just a minority of children with autism. As we start to think about loss of skills more broadly, it may be that regression affects most kids with autism in some way.