Time reports a study released today in the Journal of Pediatrics finds a simple questionnaire that asks parents about their child's behavior could help pediatricians identify autism as early as the 1-year well-baby visit.
Researchers looked at questionnaires filled out by parents of 10,479 babies, the magazine says, and 1,318 were flagged as "failing."
After more testing by lead researcher Karen Pierce, professor of neuroscience at the Autism Center for Excellence at the University of California, San Diego, and her team, 184 children were then evaluated using autism-specific tests, and 32 cases of autism spectrum disorders were eventually found, Time reports.
The magazine says the test, introduced in 2002, was actually made to identify children at risk for language and communication delays.
"Our results show we may detect about half of autism cases at the first birthday, and get these babies into treatment," Pierce tells Time. "We don't know the impact of that treatment, but based on what we do know about early brain plasticity, and how the brain is wired in the first year, we really believe it helps kids to be in treatment when they are young."
Questions on the test, according to Time, include:
- Do you know when your child is happy and when your child is upset?
- When you are not paying attention to your child, does he/she try to get your attention?
- Does your child point to objects?
- Does your child use sounds or words to get attention or help?
- Does your child show interest in playing with a variety of objects?