Regression, or the loss of established skills, used to be considered an “all or nothing” phenomenon: a child with ASD either experienced regression or s/he didn’t. However, research conducted over the past 15 years suggests that that this dichotomy is an oversimplification, and regression is a much more common and nuanced occurrence than thought previously.
“Spectrum News” reports on a meeting of ASD experts sponsored by NIH earlier this year to address the topic of regression in ASD. The gist of the article, which can be accessed here, is that the trajectories of skill development and loss are so different from child to child that the binary notion of regression or no regression becomes meaningless. In fact, early signs of ASD are likely to be present in infancy, though they are challenging to detect because they are subtle and variable in presentation. Moving away from the concept of regression, and toward the strategy of identifying different patterns of ASD onset, may yield more useful information about the early development of ASD.