Are Parents Spotting Signs of Autism Faster Than Clinicians?
May 14, 2018 02:50PM
● By Dia
Parents who have a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are in a position to accurately spot signs of Autism in their younger children, according to a new study led by University of Alberta professor of pediatrics Lonnie Zwaigenbaum. And this ability is very important. Early detection, after all, helps the parents begin the child's therapy sooner, which can have a profound impact on the child's development.
Unfortunately, detection tests for autism currently lag behind the latest research. In fact, while the American Academy of Pediatrics advocates autism screenings as early as 18 and 24 months of age, some doctors still argue that a test may not deliver accurate results until the child has turned at least five. Thus, parental instinct, as the study suggests, may be an effective way to circumvent the delay in autism diagnosis.
Parents Key to Detecting Autism
The study suggests that parents are the catalysts in diagnosing ASD in their young children aged 12 months. Once the child reaches the age of 18 months, the most accurate results can be derived from combining the parents' insights with that of clinicians.
Zwaigenbaum says that as parents know their children well, they can supply valuable information that may have slipped through the cracks during the brief consultation with a doctor. The telltale signs parents were able to identify included unusual sensory interests and repetitive behaviors. As these occur rarely, doctors are often unable to catch them during a short visit.
Catherine Lord, the director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, says some parents have a sense that something about their baby's habits or interests may be amiss. Lord says doctors ought to listen to parents, especially those who have experience with autism.
Help from Grandparents is Also Valuable
A study conducted by a group of doctors in New York, meanwhile, reveals that grandmothers tend to be the family members who catch signs of ASD in children first. The study, which involves a survey of almost 500 parents of children with autism, reports that children who frequently interact with their grandparents can reduce their age of diagnosis by up to five months.
Researchers stress that early detection can help parents enroll their children in therapies and treatments that are integral to the children's development. Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) director Cheryl Dissanayake says that as the brain is very malleable, early detection allows for early intervention.
With early detection, parents and caregivers can give children immediate access to the right tools and specialized training that will help their pursuit of knowledge and jobs in the future. The children, moreover, can learn the adaptive skills that they need to cope with the world.
Institutions such as ABC Pediatrics provide valuable behavioral therapy for children with autism, ADHD, OCD, and ODD. We create tailored programs that respond to the challenging behaviors that influence the daily lives of children and their families. We combine these programs with consistent, empathetic interactions with our staff to help children learn, understand, and live as independently as possible.