Friday, January 8, 2010

Detecting Autism early but keep it real

A study to monitor the efficiency of early Autism detection, carried out on behalf of the US Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Below we provide a summary of the results.

Objective: Assess the sensitivity and specificity of responding to one's own name at the age of 12 months as a screening tool for autism spectrum disorders and other developmental delays.

Participants: Study included 245 children; 156 infants who were thought to be at increased risk for autism and 89 who were not.

Methods: In a laboratory setting, researchers counted the number of attempts it took to get infants to respond to their own names while distracted by a toy.

Results: At 12 months, all of the control group and 86% of those at increased risk responded to their names on the first or second try.

Of the children who did not respond,
  • Five were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder by age 2,
  • Four had other delays, and three were developing normally,
  • Two had not reached that age before the study was published.
1) Not responding to one's name at a young age is very suggestive of developmental abnormalities, but it does not conclusively identify all children who will have problems.

2) Lack of response is also not universal in all children who have autism spectrum disorders and other developmental issues.

I believe it is a cautionary tale and one that parents should take heart and encouragement from.

Source: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

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