Identifying Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at an early age allows children to start treatment sooner, which can greatly improve their later development and learning, the Journal of Paediatrics reports. In 75 percent of the cases, a five-minute questionnaire for parents is accurate enough to diagnose autism in children as young as one. The checklist, which could be filled out in the waiting room of a doctor’s surgery, could help catch the condition earlier and lead to more effective treatment, say researchers.
However, many studies show a significant delay between the time parents first report concerns about their child’s behaviour and the eventual diagnosis, with some children not receiving treatment until well after they have started school, according to the Telegraph. The checklist asked parents about the child’s use of eye gaze, sounds, words, gestures, objects and other forms of age-appropriate communication. Any child who failed the screen was referred for further testing and was re-evaluated every six months until the age of three.
Karen Pierce, of the University of California, and colleagues followed 10,479 infants. Out of them, 184 failed the initial screening and received further evaluation. To date, 32 of these children have received a provisional or final diagnosis of ASD, 56 of language delay, nine of developments delay and 36 ‘other’ – totalling a positive predictive value of 75 percent using the questionnaire.
‘The opportunity to diagnose and thus begin treatment for autism around a child’s first birthday has enormous potential to change outcomes for children affected with the disorder,’ concluded Pierce.
Source: IANSFirst Published: Dec 28, 2012 at 8:21 PM