Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Possible New Diagnostic Test for Autism

One of the challenging aspects of making a diagnosis of autism is that there are no definitive tests. Evaluators must rely on a collection of data to determine if the child in question has problems in communication, relationships, and behavior.

This may be about to change. A new study from Boston Children's Hospital revealed that children with autism show less connectivity between brain regions than their typical peers. This difference can be identified through an EEG. The differences were especially apparent in language-related brain areas.

What does this mean?

  • The researchers believe that EEGs could be used to definitively identify autism in children as young as two years old. 
  • This will standardize diagnostic criteria so that children will no longer be identified with autism in one area but not in another.
  • Early identification means early intervention and better outcomes for these children and their families. 
In short, good news all around. 

The next step? Repeating this study with children identified with Aspergers' Syndrome. Children with autism who also had other disorders such as Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, or extremely premature birth. This will determine if EEG diagnosis is also appropriate in these cases.