Children can be reliably diagnosed with autism at an age earlier than what is currently recommended, CNN reports.
New data suggest that autism detection and diagnosis can start as young as 14 months old with high accuracy. The study published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Current recommendations are for children to be during regular doctor visits at 18 and 24 months old.
This opens up really unprecedented opportunity to get them into early treatment -- potentially early intensive treatment -- and then check to see what kind of impact this is having by the time they reach school age," said Karen Pierce, a professor of neuroscience and co-director of the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego, who was first author of the new study.
The study included more than 3,000 evaluation visits among the toddlers.
The researchers took a close look at how accurate and stable the diagnoses were among the toddlers over time.
Among the toddlers, an initial autism diagnosis, especially when screening started around 14 months old, was more stable than any other diagnosis, including typical development, the researchers wrote.
Overall, the data showed that 84% of toddlers in the study who were initially diagnosed with autism at their first doctor visit retained this diagnosis by the time they turned 3 or 4.
The biggest benefit to diagnosing young is really two-fold. One would be preventing challenging behaviors,", commented Michael Morrier, an assistant professor and program director of screening and assessment at the Emory Autism Center at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, who was not involved in the study.
Some of those behaviors might be when a child bangs his or her head against a table to get the attention of others, or isolates themselves from other people.
Secondly, for families, we can give them the skills and give the child the skills needed so that they can feel supported in going out into the community and having real social experiences that all young kids should have`, Michael Morrier argues.