New Autism/Aspergers Rapid ABC Screening Test Advised @ 15 Months
A new screening test is being proposed for toddlers aged 15-30 months to check for symptoms of autism and Asperger syndrome.
Developed by Emory Autism Center and Georgia Tech University, The Rapid ABC—Rapid Attention Back and Forth Communication Test—screens children for traits of autism spectrum disorders.
Experts use 5 activities to test gesturing, attention, body language and eye contact. They check the subject’s responses to having his name called, flipping through a book and playing games.
The analysis is being used in the wake of new recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, urging parents to have their children screened at younger ages. Many doctors feel kids should be screened at 15 months, 18 months, 24 months and 30 months—and more if they are high-risk.
Autism and Aspergers Testing Now Faster with Rapid ABC
Previous autism evaluations took 2 to 4 hours and no blood test could determine if a child had the disorder. The new preliminary test takes 5 minutes and can be done as early as 15 months.
A computer program determines if an autism spectrum disorder is suspected and experts can conduct further testing on vision, hearing and the nervous system.
There really isn't something quick and rapid like the ABC out there where pediatricians can interact for just 3 to 5 minutes,” said Jenny Mathys, a social worker at the Emory Autism Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
Autism spectrum disorders, or ASDs, are developmental disabilities in communication and social behaviour, including language delays. Signs usually emerge in children under the age of 3. An estimated 1 in 110 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder.
Study Finds Undiagnosed Autistic Disorders in Children
Many children with autistic traits don’t get the support they need because they aren’t definitively diagnosed with the disorder.
A study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry found that undiagnosed children aged 1 to 12 who displayed the same autistic traits—repetitive behaviours, impaired social interaction and communication difficulties— as children who had been diagnosed much earlier and received support from their schools or health services.
ASD diagnosis currently holds the key to unlocking intervention from school systems and health programs,” said lead researcher Ginny Russell. “Perhaps these resources should be extended and available for children who show autistic impairments but remain undiagnosed.
The study also reveals a gender bias in diagnosis, finding that boys are more likely to be labeled with an autistic spectrum disorder than girls with the same symptoms.