Study: Toddlers who cannot understand shapes may face communication issues later


By AGENCY
  • Family
  • Thursday, 06 Jun 2024

Increased social and communication difficulties appear to be more likely in young children who demonstrated a struggle to understand shapes as infants, according to new research. — FRISO GENTSCH/dpa

A SIX-MONTH-OLD who struggles to follow predictable sequences using shapes could face difficulty communicating as a toddler and in later life, according to a team of Italian scientists.

Researchers from the University of Milano-Bicocca, among others, said their tests show a likely link between a child’s ability to understand shapes and sequences at a pre-verbal stage of development and his or her ability to communicate effectively 18 months later.

Infants deemed “neurotypical” were able to learn the structure in the patterns, the researchers said, in a paper published by the medical journal PLOS One.

But those who struggled were found to have “increased social and communication deficits” at 23-36 months, when compared to neurotypical infants.

The team recommended that wider studies be undertaken, using a bigger sample size of infants, and said researchers looking into the causes of autism could follow up on their findings.

“The infant’s brain catches the statistical relationship in the environment and uses such information as a temporal cue to create expectations about social events,” they reported.

The use of shapes like circles, triangles and squares during play has previously been analysed in efforts to understand infant neurological development, particularly in autism research. – dpa

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