Patrick Steadman MD-PhD student at The University of Toronto

The key to early diagnosis in Autism: three research areas

“I’m hoping they will realize they get better bang for their buck, the earlier intervention is given.” - said Simone Papernick of Whitby.

The Ontario Auditor General just initiated a review of Autism Services to better determine how to spend the recently tripled budget for treatment. The budget now stands at $186 million a year for Ontarian’s with the developmental disorder. Demand has never been higher, Autism is now estimated to affect 1 in 88 children, based on reports from the Centre For Disease Control in the United States. However, one of the best solutions to making treatment more effective is earlier diagnosis.

Diagnosing children at an earlier age means earlier intervention at a time when the child’s brain is changing rapidly and has the potential to be influenced by life experiences.

Currently the best therapy for young children with Autism is Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI), which uses a comprehensive approach to support a child’s healthy development. This therapy costs as much as $60,000 a year.

To improve the effectiveness of IBI, three early interventions hold strong potential. The first is the understanding of genetic factors which contribute to increased risk in developing Autism. The second is understanding how children who go on to develop autism have subtle differences in behaviour from children who don’t develop the disorder. Thirdly, using imaging brain during development to understand how the brain may grow differently in children who go on to be diagnosed with Autism.

I look forward to seeing all three grow over time and tell us more about the brain’s intricacies.

Further information:

comments powered by Disqus