View Full Version : Potential early detection of autism.

03-23-13, 08:15 PM
From NICHD (, an article entitled Delay in shifting gaze linked to early brain development in autism: (

At 7 months of age, children who are later diagnosed with autism take a split second longer to shift their gaze during a task measuring eye movements and visual attention than do typically developing infants of the same age, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The difference between the groupsí test results was 25 to 50 milliseconds on average, the researchers found, too brief to be detected in social interactions with an infant. However, they showed that this measurable delay could be accounted for by differences in the structure and organization of actively developing neurological circuits of a childís brain.

When they were infants, children who were later diagnosed with autism took longer to shift their gaze during a measure of eye movements than did infants who were not diagnosed with autism. The researchers believe that brain circuits involved with a brain structure known as the splenium of the corpus callosum (shown in this scan) may account for the differences in gaze shifting between the two groups. Image courtesy of Jason Wolff, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Efficiently shifting attention early in infancy is thought to be important for later social and cognitive development. Split-second delays, the researchers suggested, could be a precursor to such well known symptoms of autism as difficulty making eye contact or following a parentís pointing finger, problems that generally emerge after a child turns 1. Typically, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is not diagnosed until after 3 ( or 4 years of age. (article continues. . .)

I thought this might be of interest to some people here. The earlier ASD is diagnosed, the sooner interventions can start. Early behavioral therapy is the only thing consistently shown to help with autism spectrum disorders, and while I don't know what could be done with children this age, I'm sure someone will figure it out.

03-24-13, 01:00 PM
If nothing else it can give the parents an early heads up on the possibility of ASD so monitoring can be put into place.

With this disorder, there is no question that the earlier the detection the better.

Thanks for the find.


03-24-13, 02:44 PM
The other possibility is that earlier detection could lead to earlier age-appropriate interventions, too. Current interventions are aimed for 3 years and older, for the most part. Starting at infancy might prevent at least a few of the problems these therapies are designed to correct.

03-25-13, 05:04 AM
Symptoms of autism don't begin to show until the baby is around 18 months, and there is regressive autism: baby makes all milestones but then loses the skills.

I dunno, I think a lot of babies will be unnecessarily suspected as autistic.

Early intervention now does make a lot of improvements. Early detection just sounds like they want to completely reverse it and that's scary. Can doctors tell at 7 months who will be severe and who will be mild? Don't get me wrong, it's a frustrating disorder but it comes with special abilities.