Thursday, May 17, 2012

Head Lag and Autism

Recent research indicates that infants who exhibit a head lag are at risk for autism, language and/or social development delays.  Forty infants who were considered at risk for autism (due to sibling diagnosed with autism) were tested for head lag at 6, 14, 24, and, for outcome diagnosis, at 30 or 36 months. The results indicated the following:
  •  90% of infants diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibited head lag as infants
  • 54% of children meeting criteria for social/communication delay had exhibited head lag as infants
  • 35% of children not meeting the criteria for social or communication delay or ASD exhibited head lag at 6 months.
An additional aspect of the study examined twenty-two, 6 month olds for a head lag.  The results indicated that 75% of high risk infants exhibited a head lag but only 33% of low risk infants had a head lag at 6 months of age.

Finally, there was a separate longitudinal study indicating that motor delay becomes more evident as children with ASD near their third birthday.  Not all children with ASD experienced motor delay.  Although the children with ASD that did have motor delays were more severely impaired by three years of age.

Here are two YouTube videos with examples of typical head/neck movement and head lag at 6 months of age.


Reference: New Study Shows Simple Task at Six Months of Age May Predict Risk of Autism. Retreived from the web at on 5/17/12.


pediatric therapist said...

I am an OT. A mom wants me to teach her daughter to blow her nose. Any SP or OT out there found a way to teach this?


Your Therapy Source Inc said...

Check out If you are a member there (free to join) you can view a document entitled Strategies for Teaching Nose Blowing. It is a 2 page collection of strategies such as blowing feathers when exhaling through the nose and more.

Once on OTExchange go to documents - self care - Strategies for Teaching Nose Blowing.

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