Review of New Research on Autism

Small Study on Autism suggests benefits

At 12 months old a baby will have a visit to their pediatrician and at this time there will be some preliminary testing for autism. Most doctors agree that autism can’t be reliably diagnosed until a child is 2 years old. Most treatments begin for children starting at age 2.

Some subtle signs of the disorder that have been documented early on in children are erratic eye movement (even at 2 months old). Some suggest behavioral difference (no eye contact, repetitive behaviors, single toy fixation) can be seen between 6-12 months old.

A pilot program by UC Davis’ MIND institute seems to suggest that guided social interaction between a mother and her baby can decrease autism by age three. The babies of parents who underwent the coaching showed far fewer autism related measures at age 3 than peers whose parents did not participate. They also scored higher than nonparticipants who were later diagnosed with autism.

Cons of the study:

  • The sample size was very small (only 7 babies).
  • It was not randomized
  • Later interventions also show promise
  • Most children do not show signs of autism this early

Pros of the study:

  • Good pilot study that shows need for more research
  • Shows importance of early recognition and treatment

What was done: Mothers and babies underwent coaching through 12 weekly one-hour training and observation sessions with professional therapists. Some were given more sessions, or referred for extra therapy (i.e. speech coaching). Babies went through developmental testing approximately every three months until they were three years of age.

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Remember that this information is for educational purposes only. Seek the advice of a health specialist before making any changes to your healthcare.

REF:

“Small autism study suggests benefits” – LA Times