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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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153. Early childhood social communication deficits in youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis: Associations with functioning, symptoms, and risk

Effective social functioning requires a broad range of social communication skills that are impaired in psychosis populations. However, little is known about early childhood (4-5 year period) social communication during the premorbid (pre-illness) stage of psychosis. The present study utilized retrospective parent reports to examine total early childhood social communication deficits, as well as deficits in two distinct domains, reciprocal social interaction (social smiling/eye gaze) and communication (social chat/gesture) in youth at clinical high-risk (CHR) for psychosis. Furthermore, associations between early childhood social communication and CHR youth’s current functioning (social, academic/work), symptoms (positive/negative), and risk for conversion to psychosis were examined. Compared to healthy controls, CHR individuals had greater deficits in total and communication specific early childhood social communication. Early childhood total, communication, and reciprocal social interaction deficits were associated with worse current functioning and greater current negative symptom severity in CHR youth. Early childhood total and reciprocal social interaction deficits were also associated with increased risk for conversion. These findings inform the field’s understanding of the etiology and pathophysiology of psychosis by extending the current developmental literature on premorbid deficits in psychosis populations to specific domains of social behavior in a critical developmental period.

K. Juston Osborne
Northwestern University

Teresa Vargas
Northwestern University

Vijay A. Mittal
Northwestern University


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