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Early detection and treatment for autism


The past few years have seen a number of strides in early detection of autism. Researchers have begun to tease out behaviors and symptoms of autism that make very early diagnosis and even intervention possible. This is according to Brooke Ingersoll, MSU assistant professor of psychology. “It’s pretty exciting,” Ingersoll noted. “I think we, as a field, are getting a much better idea of what autism looks like in infants and toddlers than we did even five years ago.”

The current study shows that toddlers and preschoolers with autism who were taught to imitate made more attempts to draw the examiner’s attention to an object through hand gestures and eye contact. Avoidance of eye contact is a typical symptom of autism.

The imitation skill is an important development that allows infants and young children to interact and socialize with others. This is an area of deficit in autism. Children with autism do not naturally learn behavior through observation and imitation. Instead they need to be explicitly taught and it appears many of these children are able to learn.

Autism can be diagnosed as early as 2 or 3 years. With new research findings, it can be diagnosed as early as 12 months for some children. “I think there’s a lot of hope that if we can figure out the right behaviors early enough, and intervene early enough, we may be able to prevent the development of autism,” Ingersoll said.

Source: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, MedicalNewsToday

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