Kloe Fico, MSc
As part of my PhD, I investigate the development of young children with and without ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Symptoms occur early in childhood and currently, diagnosis is done on the basis of a list of behavioral symptoms. However, because ASD is a neurodevelopmental condition, it has an impact on the way that the brain grows and functions from early on. In fact, based on many studies in genetics we know that brain development is different much earlier than ASD is diagnosed.
To date, these studies have included infants with an elevated likelihood for ASD by virtue of having an older sibling with the condition. However, it remains unclear whether these studies are representative of the general population, that is, children without known genetic or familial likelihood factors but who display early symptoms of ASD.
My project aims to fill this gap by investigating the emergence of brain differences in these young children (20-34 months) and whether these differences can be predictive of ASD diagnosis after the third year of life.
I am part of SAPIENS, a large inter-disciplinary scientific network (carried out within the framework of the European Training Network H2020) devoted to advance our understanding of social brain development.