Medical professionals have developed a new method of autism detection which has improved the chances of early diagnoses. The aim is to diagnose babies within their first year of life. The majority of the babies who have undergone the procedure are considered “high risk” test subjects because they have siblings who are autistic; and siblings of autistic children have a 1 in 5 chance of being diagnosed with autism.
An MRI scan is recorded at 6 months, 1 year and 2 years of age in order to monitor brain development. It has been proven that the brain of a child with autism increases in size at a more rapid rate than that of a child who never shows symptoms of autism. The folds of the brain increase rapidly between the ages of 6 months to 12 months and the overall volume of the brain continues to increase at a fast rate between 1 year and 2 years of age in children who have been later diagnosed with autism.
This new method of diagnosing children with autism is ground breaking because children are most commonly diagnosed with autism from 2 years old, in the best case scenario, with most diagnoses occurring when children are already 4 years of age. It is in these later years that the typical external symptoms of autism, such as an inability to make or maintain eye-contact, difficulty speaking and other delays in development, come to the foreground and it is only once these symptoms have been diagnosed that treatment can take place.
Unfortunately, a lot of behaviour has already been learned by this stage in a child’s life and it is difficult for a child to adjust to a new way of learning- it can be difficult to develop key social skills at this late stage of development.
Early detection of autism will have an incredibly positive impact on the overall quality of life for people with autism because they will receive the appropriate style of education at an early stage, when behavioural patterns have not been solidified, and they will learn to socialise in the same way other children do.
Children, whose autism diagnoses has been detected within 2 years, will be able to break the limitations caused by the aforementioned external symptoms and they will be able to lead an easier life. Early detection will help parents to cope with their children and truly understand their needs. Parents will be taught how to treat an autistic child and how to ensure they develop to their best potential. It can be incredibly frustrating for a parent to treat an autistic child and early detection will aid in securing a stronger bond between the parent and child.
The majority of the tests have been performed on “high-risk” babies and it is difficult to say what impact this testing method will have on families that do not have one existing child with autism; however, medical professionals are very close to developing a system of autism diagnoses which will change the world for future generations.