According to the latest CDC statistics one in 88 children in America have some form of autism. Autism affects communication and social abilities. It’s typically diagnosed when children demonstrate slower language development than other kids. A research group at Clarkson University in Potsdam is finding information that may make earlier diagnosis and intervention promising. The study at Clarkson centers on identifying biomarkers for autism. A biomarker is some part of a subject’s biology that indicates an illness, a situation that points to the existence of a particular condition.
According to neurobiologist Alisa Woods, by finding the biomarkers for autism earlier diagnosis could result, way before the child begins to demonstrate problems with language acquirement around age two. Woods says biomarkers could also prove useful in monitoring treatments for autism, because biological changes might prove easier to track than behavioral ones, and may also emerge in advance during treatment. Woods says recognizing biomarkers may lead to earlier diagnosis, and earlier interventions that can assist autistic children’s development.
Since the key to helping autistic children is earlier identification, she says that “Behavioral interventions can be initiated at a very early age, even before two years old,”. “So then you might start doing those interventions – and early interventions have been known for over 20 years to be more effective than later interventions.”
Alisa Woods says her research is her obligation toward advocating for early treatments for autistic children.
“I’m a big advocate of early intervention, basically because of my personal experience going through that with my son, who, you know, is on the spectrum,” Woods says. “He was treated starting at 23 months, and I just thought it was transformative. I’m just amazed at how effective it is, and I would love to see more kids treated early.”