Study Shows that Autism Starts Months Before Symptoms Appear

Posted on February 18, 2017

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Autism is a mental condition that is characterized by a range of difficulties in communication and learning. This lifelong disability influences how those affected see, hear and feel their surroundings. The first signs of autism can usually be visually detected between 12 - 18 months. Parents will notice their children lack any eye contact or smiles, which are common behaviors for babies. However, a new study suggests that people can detect autism at an earlier stage with the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Geraldine Dawson, a clinical psychologists and autism researcher from Duke University, says that detecting the disorder at an earlier stage is extremely beneficial as it allows earlier interventions to commence before a full manifestation takes place. With the use of MRI scans, predictions were correct eight out of ten times of which high-risk children would go on to be diagnosed with autism. This early detection can offer treatment at times when they are most effective instead of waiting for symptoms to manifest and treating those after the onset has already begun. Dawson believes that because the brain develops so much in the first year of life, there possibly could be critical windows of interventions when the greatest effect takes place.

These results can also lead to further studies on behavioral interventions for young children and babies who have early detection of autism. For example, one possible treatment is called hyper-parenting where the fathers and mothers of a diagnosed child can engage in more social interactions to supersaturate a child's environment.


Source material from Scientific American


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