Language regression is associated with faster early motor development in children with autism spectrum disorder

Liora Manelis, Gal Meiri, Michal Ilan, Hagit Flusser, Analya Michaelovski, Michal Faroy, Orly Kerub, Ilan Dinstein, Idan Menashe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Language regression (LR) is a consistent and reproducible phenomenon that is reported by ~25% of parents who have children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, there is controversy regarding the etiological and clinical significance of this phenomenon. Here, we examined data from a cohort of 218 children with ASD from the Negev Autism Center in Israel. We identified 36 children with ASD who were reported to exhibit clear LR by their parent on three independent occasions and compared them to 104 children whose parents did not report any concern of regression (NR). We compared a variety of key developmental characteristics across these two groups. We found that the age at which children with ASD in the LR group achieve key developmental milestones of crawling, walking, and use of first words is significantly younger than the age of children in the NR group, and comparable to the age of typically developing children. In contrast, no differences were observed in physical growth characteristics such as head circumference, weight, or height between the groups. Furthermore, almost all children with LR were born close to full term (>35 weeks) and none had a history of hypotonia. Notably, despite their apparently typical early development, children with LR were diagnosed with more severe symptoms of ASD than children with NR. These results strengthen the motivation to continue and study LR among children with ASD and suggest that early detection and intervention studies of ASD may benefit from stratifying children into LR and NR groups. Autism Res 2020, 13: 145–156.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-156
Number of pages12
JournalAutism Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • early development
  • language regression
  • motor development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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