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  • Kim Robinson

New, Non-Invasive Eye Scan Could Identify Autism in Children Years Earlier

A new, non-invasive eye scan may help identify autism in children years earlier than currently possible. According to a report this month by Eureka Alert.org, the eye scan utilizes a hand-held device to identify subtle electrical signals in the retina that are different in children with autism, and are directly connected to differences in their brain development. 180 people with and without autism, between the ages of 5 and 21, participated in a test of the device, in collaboration with Yale University, University College London, and Great Ormond Street Hospital in the U.K. The study was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Dr. Paul Constable, a senior lecturer at Flinders University, described the retina as “an ideal place to look” for an identifier of autism, since it is an extension of the brain, made of neural tissue and connected to it by the optic nerve. Constable added that an earlier diagnosis can be extremely beneficial for young children with autism. “Very early diagnosis means not only can children receive important interventions, but families are empowered to get the necessary supports in place, come to terms with the diagnosis, and make informed decisions," Constable said. In addition to autism, Constable and his team hope the scan will be able to identify conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Parents of one child with autism are at much higher risk of having autism in their second child as well. Early detection in firstborn children will allow parents to decide whether they want to have more children, since siblings of children with autism are at much higher risk for the disorder. “Detection inevitably changes family dynamics and goals, and creates consideration about the time required to help the child," Constable said. "Very early diagnosis means not only can children receive important interventions, but families are empowered to get the necessary supports in place, come to terms with the diagnosis, and make informed decisions." Source: https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-02/fu-aes022020.php

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