Our children are not being adequately screened for Autism
by Dr. Alan Kadish NMD
One of the unfortunate and consistent issues we see in our practice is the late recognition of autism. It’s not unusual to see signs and symptoms of ASD within the first 18 months. There is a growing body of screening in pediatric clinics however, the tools used need to be more accurate and encompace all children, regardless of their socioeconomic status and location.
A study done at 20 Utah clinics and published in Pediatrics using the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, with Follow-up, known as the M-CHAT/f means of testing has an overall sensitivey of just 33%…..and is one of the major methods used by both family medicine and pediactric clinics. Would you bet on a test with this low a sensitivity ?
For years the Autism Research Institue has been using a test with higher fidelity known as the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist, abbreviated as the ATEC. It’s free to use online or if you prefer a copy, just drop us an email. It uses a comprehensive check list of behaviors, consisting of 4 subtests: I. Speech/Language Communication (14 items); II. Sociability (20 items); III. Sensory/ Cognitive Awareness (18 items); and IV. Health/Physical/Behavior (25 items) that allows you and others to evaluate on an ongoing basis changes.
Newer but still not integrated tools that do independant assessments include another objective evaluation method, such as the use of a single electode on the forehead to detect brain waves, EEG’s response to visual stimulation. The announcement by a Dartmouth-led research team “New study shows how autism can be measured through a non-verbal marker How a visual test can help screen for autism” is one of the many new breakthroughs. They acheived an accuracy of 87% with this simple testing technique.
As another option newly published research piece in Digital Medicine, has shown a 73% accuracy by using visual cues interpetrations, following a 7 minute presentation to the adults in the study using an automated analysis of facial expressions, gaze behavior, and voice characteristics.
The NODA — the Naturalistic Observation Diagnostic Assessment (NODA) system is a smartphone-based system that lets parents record and send videos to our Center for analysis, in advance of an on-site evaluation and significantly shorten the length of time they are in the office. It gives us direction into the areas to address as well as directing us towared other tool for diagnostics and treatment.
New genetic evaluation panels have been increasing their scope and interpretation abilities over the years and can also lead to functional interventions.
As a parent or caregiver consider moving forward on both using effective tools for evaluation and therapy.
Waiting for an evaluation is not appropriate, the sooner you know the faster positive changes can be made.
Your options for testing keep increasing and becoming more accurate.
Interventions including biomedical treatment is available and scientifically validated.
Ancillary therapies, including speech, behavioral and physical therapies make changes.
Autism Screening: Time to Focus on Quality Over Quantity | MedPage Today
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