Not everyone with autism develops at the same rate or in the same way during early childhood. Researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland collected data from 2,720 parents and found three different patterns of autism. Regression was characterised by a loss of previously acquired social, communicative or cognitive skills before the age of three. 'Plateau' was the display of only mild developmental delays until the child showed a gradual to abrupt halt in their development that restricted further advances in their skills and No Loss and No Plateau children showed early warning signs of autism without experiencing either a loss or a plateau. The children who went through the Regression pattern had a significant increase in their autism symptoms, the greatest risk of not attaining conversational speech and were more likely than other groups to need increased educational support. Compared to the No Loss No Plateau children the children from the Plateau group were more likely to need educational support and more likely to be diagnosed with autism rather than the less-serious Asperger's syndrome.
You can find out more about this research at