Limited accuracy and speed in facial recognition (FR) and in the identification of facial emotions (IFE) have been shown in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This study aimed at evaluating the predictive value of atypicalities in FR and IFE for future symptom severity in children with ASD. Therefore we performed a seven-year follow-up study in 87 children with ASD. FR and IFE were assessed in childhood (T1: age 6-12) using the Amsterdam Neuropsychological Tasks (ANT). Symptom severity was assessed using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) in childhood and again seven years later during adolescence (T2: age 12-19). Multiple regression analyses were performed to investigate whether FR and IFE in childhood predicted ASD symptom severity in adolescence, while controlling for ASD symptom severity in childhood. We found that more accurate FR significantly predicted lower adolescent ASD symptom severity scores (ΔR<sup>2</sup> = .09), even when controlling for childhood ASD symptom severity. IFE was not a significant predictor of ASD symptom severity in adolescence. From these results it can be concluded, that in children with ASD the accuracy of FR in childhood is a relevant predictor of ASD symptom severity in adolescence. Test results on FR in children with ASD may have prognostic value regarding later symptom severity.

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Autism Research
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology

Eussen, M.L.J.M, Louwerse, I, Herba, C.M, van Gool, A.R, Verheij, F, Verhulst, F.C, & Greaves-Lord, K. (2015). Childhood Facial Recognition Predicts Adolescent Symptom Severity in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Research, 8(3), 261–271. doi:10.1002/aur.1443