EASE - Early Autism Sweden
Early Autism Sweden (EASE) is a collaborative research project between KIND and the Uppsala Child and Babylab (Department of Psychology, Uppsala University) studying the early development in children with autism through a longitudinal study of infants at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in younger siblings of children with ASD may be as high as 20% . In North America and the UK, emphasis in research is currently placed on prospective longitudinal studies of infant siblings of children with ASD in order to better understand the condition’s early neurodevelopmental trajectories and identify early biomarkers of ASD. Younger siblings, alongside typically developing low risk controls, are monitored during their first 2 years of life using established clinical instruments and novel methods. Later, typically at 36 months, a complete diagnostic evaluation is performed on all children. Improving the early detection of ASD is a pivotal aim of clinical services, as it is a precondition for early intervention, which may improve long-term outcomes for individuals with ASD. Recent infant sibling studies have revealed a number of putative early markers, primarily in social communication, motor function, and attention domains, and mostly emerging around the younger sibling’s first birthday. Few markers have been identified before the age of 12 months, and the identified 12-month markers are not good predictors at an individual level.
In the project EASE (Early Autism Sweden; earlyautism.se), we follow infants with an increased risk for ASD due to having an older sibling with an autism spectrum diagnosis. A central aim of the project is to understand early neurodevelopmental trajectories to improve early detection and facilitate timely intervention. Infants will be assessed using behavioral and cognitive tools, as well as novel methods (eye tracking, near infrared spectroscopy, skin conductance, automated motion capture techniques). Siblings of children with ASD and low-risk controls will be monitored at 5, 10, 14, 18, 24, and 36 months of age.
During full-day assessments at the Uppsala Child and Babylab, clinical, cognitive, and brain-based measures will be collected to test current hypotheses about early development in ASD. Infants will also undergo an MRI procedure. The sessions will take place at the Karolinska Institutet MR center. Scans will be performed during natural sleep (i.e., without sedation).
In infancy (5-18 months), the clinical battery includes gold standardstandardized procedures for assessing putative early signs of ASD, as well as measures of motor and language development, cognition, and temperament. Follow-up and diagnostic evaluations will be conducted by the KIND clinical research unit.
Early Autism Sweden is financed by
The Swedish Research Council
Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research - FAS
The Swedish Research Council FORMAS
Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI): EU-AIMS
European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST): Enhancing the Scientific Study of Early Autism (ESSEA)
Information for parents
For more information, please go to: Project Baby siblings