April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and a new study has revealed tracking a child's' eyes could more accurately assist in the early diagnosis of autism.Belfast Telegraph reported that families of autistic children "struggle" because the children are not being diagnosed in a timely fashion. Researchers from Newcastle University feel the delay in a timely diagnosis prevents autistic children from getting the access they need to specialized care and therapy. Belfast Telegraph also confirmed that the average age at which most children are diagnosed is four and a half years old. This average age of diagnosis has not changed in the last 10 years.
"There's a growing body of evidence showing that early intervention can improve social and communication skills in children with autism spectrum disorder. Many children receive a diagnosis later than they could have done, this means that they and their parents have to struggle on longer than necessary without suitable support or understanding of their child's difficulties. We need to improve awareness of the signs of autism spectrum disorder in very young children."Clinical senior lecturer at Newcastle University Dr. Jeremy Parr expresses how important it is for an early diagnosis in order to make communication and social skills easier for a child with autism to learn. Parr goes on to express an early diagnosis is beneficial in helping limit how much parents have to struggle as well. According to Daily Mail, a research team at a clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, discovered a simple eye test which can spot more objective markers of the condition at a much earlier age. The study determined that children with autism are more likely to spend time looking at details and objects than people when watching videos or films. The researchers also went on to reveal that this eye exam can help tell the difference between children who have autism and children who do not have autism but have other developmental disabilities. The researchers even believe this eye test can determine how severe a child's symptoms of the condition are.
Earlier diagnosis of autism is beneficial because the child can begin to receive treatments in order to help manage the symptoms. Autism is part of a spectrum disorder and is considered to be a long-term disability. There are no known "cures" for this condition.
The main symptoms of autism include having trouble interacting socially, a struggle to communicate properly, and unusual thought and behavior patterns. Each of these symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe in how much they affect a person who has autism.For the purpose of this study, researchers at the clinic in Ohio used two groups of children between the ages of 3 and 8. These were children who had been referred for an autism evaluation as they were believed to be at risk of being on the autism spectrum.
During the study, the researchers conducted an eye test which used remote eye gaze tracking. This test monitored exactly what the children were looking at while they were watching videos or staring at a photograph.According to Autism Speaks, medical research and experts currently believe children cannot be accurately diagnosed with autism until around the age of 2. The researchers at Autism Speaks go on to question how this can be true if there is so much information available regarding toxins and other things pregnant women should avoid in order to decrease their child's risk of autism. Medical research and experts suggest that children could be born with autism or they could develop it later in life due to environmental factors. Currently, there is not any information to support whether or not a child is born with autism. Experts believe diagnosing as early as possible to start treatment is the best approach.
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