Washington DC: It turns out that at the time of reliable diagnosis or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), children affected by ASD already show emotional vulnerabilities that potentially anticipate the emergence of conditions of affective and co-morbid behavior highly prevalent in older children.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescence Psychiatry (JAACAP), young children with ASD show anger and frustration improved and a minor fear in response to natural situations. They also found that the ability to experience joy appears intact in the early stages of the disease.
"The ASD works in most cases in the first two years of life and affects approximately 1 in 59 children," said senior authors Suzanne Macari and Katarzyna Chawarska. "This study documents, for the first time, that at an older age when the disorder can be diagnosed reliably, children with ASE already show emotional vulnerabilities that point to the risk of co-morbid and behavioral problems."
21-month-old children were recruited between December 2013 and March 2017. Using a multimodal approach, the researchers examined the intensity of emotional responses in vocal and facial channels to natural situations aimed at provoking anger, fear and joy.
"Vulnerabilities are not related to the symptoms of autism and, therefore, contribute independently to the development of complex and highly heterogeneous phenotypes of autism," Drs added. Macari and Chawarska. "In addition to orienting social and communication problems, doctors should also focus on the evaluation and treatment of the symptoms affected in small children with ASD in the hope of improving the severity of comorbid disorders as common in ASD."
The researchers found that when the desired object was put out of the reach of the child, children with ASD showed high levels of intensity of anger and frustration. However, when faced with new and potentially threatening objects, their intensity of fear is less than in comparison groups. Although a high response to anger can challenge the system of emotional regulation in development, the attenuated response of fear suggests an atypical assessment of threat and risk to security concerns.
Although there is a predominant notion that children with ASD do not experience joy as much as other children, the study found that levels of joy in response to recreational situations were comparable in children with ASD and control groups. This suggests that in the early stages of the disorder, the ability to experience joy may be intact. Enjoying this emotional competence intact with therapeutic purposes is essential since the activation of positive emotions promotes the learning and exploration and stress of the accountants.
Together, the study reveals a surprising and complex emotional picture of children with ASD and provides a strong motivation for research into early emotional development in ASD and its role in the onset of autism.