Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Simple "name test" may help screen babies for autism

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Autism is a complex spectrum of disorders that often doesn't get diagnosed in children until three or four years of age. But a recent study found that a simple screening may raise a red flag for parents when their children are as young as one. Simply put, if your child can not routinely respond to their own name at 12 months of age, you may want to consider getting an evaluation done.

Researchers followed a group of nearly 150 infants, 46 of whom were a control group and 101 at-risk children whose siblings had already been diagnosed with the disorder. At 12 months, all of the control group infants passed the "name test," but only 86% of the at-risk infants responded. At two years of age, 3/4 of the infants who did not pass the name test were found to have developmental delays of some kind.

Experts stress that failing the name test does not mean a child has autism. Instead, children who don't regularly respond to their name at 1 year may need to be evaluated to be sure their development is on track. The earlier a problem is diagnosed, the sooner intervention can be started.

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