More Problems Are Now "Autism"
The marked increase in U.S. autism diagnoses that began to show up around 1996, and which some have blamed on childhood vaccination, may in fact be based not on an increase in autism per se, but on an increase in other, similar intellectual disabilities that are now classified as autism by those making the diagnosis. A Penn State study of eleven years of special-ed enrollment statistics that were compiled on over 6,000,000 children per year found that the rise in autism diagnoses over that time was almost entirely balanced off by a decrease in diagnoses of other autism-like conditions. The report concluded that simple reclassification could have produced two-thirds of the rise in autism cases overall, and a striking 97 percent of those involving older children.
Checklist Identifies ASD
A five-minute checklist, filled out in doctors’ offices, may help with the early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, allowing children to start treatment sooner, aiding in later development and learning, says the National Institutes of Health. The checklist includes questions about a child’s eye gaze, vocalizations, gestures, and other age-appropriate forms of communication. In early screenings of 10,479 infants, 32 were identified as having ASD, which is consistent with current rates of diagnosis. Currently, there is often a significant delay between when parents report concerns about their child's behavior and an eventual diagnosis. Doctors who participated in the research rated the early screening program positively. Researchers note that further refinement is necessary.
Brain Waves Detect Risk
The electrical activity of the brains of 79 six to 24 month old infants watching people blow bubbles showed that electroencephalograms (EEG) may predict who is at a high risk of developing autism. With EEG, brain waves were recorded and analyzed with computer algorithms that detected patterns that were not obvious to the researchers. Over half of the infants had an older sibling with autism and previous research indicates that kids with older siblings are more likely to develop it or will have some of the symptoms. Overall, the test had an 80 percent accuracy rate with 100 percent in predicting risk in boys compared to only 60 percent in girls. If further research proves EEG is a reliable tool, very early detection will result in very early intervention which is known to be beneficial.
Autism Diagnosis Made Easy
"It's probably just detecting the residue of some crank gluten-free diet or chelation substance that the parents have imposed on the poor autistic kids."
- Corneia in the comments
A study in the Journal of Proteome Research found a chemical fingerprint in the urine of autistic children. It was similar between them but distinct from that of non-autistic siblings and those with no known family history. The chemical fingerprint in the urine comes from the breakdown of bacteria in the gut. The composition of bacteria in the gut is different between autistic children and those without the disorder. Early intervention helps autistic children progress, but the diagnosis usually is made late and is a lengthy process. Lead researcher Jeremy Nicholson said "Giving therapy to children with autism when they are very young can make a huge difference to their progress. A urine test might enable professionals to quickly identify children with autism to help them early on."