New Test Could Catch Autism Earlier Than Ever

baby watching tvThink new parents are already obsessed with milestones? A new test for autism that could diagnose kids on the spectrum as young as 6 months could be the proverbial gamechanger for parents. On the other hand, the eye test could be drive parents absolutely bonkers.

The booming scrapbooking industry makes it petty darn clear we are already obsessed with tracking our kids' milestones. Add in the most popular stories about autism that pervade the media, telling of a baby who was bright and bubbly only to lose that personality in the toddler years when their developmentally quite suddenly goes off the rails ... and you have parents who hyperfocus on what their kids are doing right as they try to assure themselves their child isn't one of the one in 88 kids to end up on the spectrum.

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Those stories we hear have become legendary, but the fact is, there are often signs of autism in younger kids. Still, most kids aren't actually diagnosed until after age 4. It's a heart wrenching waiting game for us parents.

Which is where this test, developed at the University of Southern California and Australia's Queen's University, comes in. The researchers have found they can track eye movement while a baby watches television to diagnose everything from Parkinson's disease (typically in older patients) to fetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to autism.

This should be a big help for doctors. Got that, parents? DOCTORS can use this eye test. As in trained professionals who should be able to put this test to use in an office setting to end this endless holding pattern parents are stuck in, wondering if their kid is going to be one of the one in 88. It should help kids get early intervention earlier, which is the real key to helping kids on the spectrum.

And yet, the second I read about this, I could see the writing on the wall. Parents are going to try this. And they're going to drive themselves crazy.

This eye test for autism has the potential to keep parents glued to their baby's side for hours, watching, debating, "Honey, was that a flicker? Is he really looking at the TV or am I just imagining it?"

Can I offer a word of advice? Don't! You're going to take all the fun out of parenting ... and you won't be any further ahead in the long run.

We all want to do what is best for our kids, but this is one time when parents really need to back off and let the experts do their jobs. There is no reason for parents to set their babies up in front a television set and become obsessed with watching their eyes move. Babies shouldn't really be watching TV anyway (ahem), but this is also highly technical stuff. You don't watch a YouTube video and figure out how to diagnose your kid with autism!

Let's call this possible test for autism what it is: something that could help the experts help us. But let's all agree to leave it to them, OK?

Have you been concerned about autism? What have you done?

 

Image via n8tr0n/Flickr

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