Twenty years ago, the average age of diagnosis for autism was 6 years. These days, many children are diagnosed with the disorder before their third birthday.
Greater awareness and better diagnostic tools explain these trends, and the attention to high-risk siblings of children with autism is likely to drive the average age of diagnosis down further. Many researchers are seeking reliable biomarkers for 6-month-old infants.
Most intervention programs bring children into the clinic for intensive play and language therapy, but a new approach involves parents more heavily, Rogers said at the Emerging Neuroscience of Autism Spectrum Disorders, a satellite meeting of the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.
Rogers told SFARI that teaching parents to “work inside the space between biology and behavior” may become a powerful tool for preventing autism in very young children. “The big question,” she says, “is can we fundamentally change developmental trajectories?”
For more reports from the 2010 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, please click here.