A new study released earlier this year finds that the testing of infants through twelve-month-old babies, through visual cues, has a high success rate in predicting a diagnosis of autism later in childhood and the pattern of autism that will develop in that child.
The study was conducted by the Center for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck University of London, and appears in the journal Current Biology. The study found that because an Autistic child’s brain functions very differently than a typical child’s brain, sensors placed on a child’s head, as well as a break in eye contact when a researcher intentionally made eye contact with the child, often predicted a diagnosis of Autism.
It was noted that although this study seems to be a real leap in the early diagnosis of Autism, even before behavioral symptoms have been noted, not all of the infants who could not maintain eye contact were positively diagnosed with Autism later in childhood. The lead author of the study, Professor Mark Johnson, said that he encourages parents to check the level of eye contact in their children in order to determine if they should continue to look for signs of Autism as the child gets older, and to seek a medical opinion or diagnosis if they believe their child might be at risk.